By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – With strong pitching on the front end, Ole Miss has been in position to sweep its first two SEC series. It’s the back end that’s been a problem.
Outscored 47-15 in their last four series finales – two non-conference and two in the SEC – it looks like Sunday has truly been a day of rest for the Rebels.
Drew Pomeranz and Aaron Barrett, steady all season, will pitch tonight and Saturday’s games against visiting Tennessee. The Sunday starter is still to be announced, Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said.
Game times against the Volunteers at Swayze Field are 6:30 tonight, 4 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
Poll voters were more impressed with the Rebels’ Friday and Saturday wins over then-No. 2 Florida than with a 13-1 loss on Sunday, as Ole Miss leaped seven spots to No. 11 in this week’s Baseball America Top 25.
With a combination of factors, Sunday improvement may be near. While Bianco hasn’t named a starter, certainly sophomore right-hander David Goforth made a strong pitch for it Tuesday night.
Goforth began the season as the closer, a role in which he had been erratic. However, against State in the Governor’s Cup, he went 52⁄3 innings, allowing two runs on three hits. He walked two and struck out one.
Offensively, the Rebels (20-6, 4-2 SEC) expect to have first baseman Matt Snyder, one of their top power hitters, who hasn’t played since re-injuring his shoulder on March 23 against Southern Miss.
Goforth may not start Sunday but will pitch in some capacity. Bianco was pleased with what he saw in Goforth’s first start.
“To start him gave him the chance to not have to pitch with the game on the line,” Bianco said. “He had more freedom to work his pitches. He looked tremendous, throwing the fastball on both sides of the plate, the breaking ball, the change-up … He was the David we all know and love.”
It was the 37th appearance of Goforth’s career. He averaged 94 miles an hour for the duration of his starter and hit 97 at times.
“I figured my arm would get a little tired at the end or maybe the velocity would drop down a little bit, but actually, I don’t think the velocity dropped much,” Goforth said. “And the arm felt great, even after I was taken out.”
Tennessee (13-13, 0-6 SEC) pounded Presbyterian 25-6 Wednesday night but is winless against the SEC.
The Vols are tied for last in the league in hitting at .280 and are next-to-last in pitching with a 4.85 earned run average.
Ole Miss is hitting .306, tied for fifth in the league. Snyder could be a spark. He’s hitting .333 with three home runs but has appeared in only 13 games.
“Offensively we’ve played pretty well, but there’s more in us,” Bianco said. “We’ve had some guys get off to slow starts. We can be better.”