Weekend Wrapup

Ole Miss bounced back from a Saturday loss at Houston to win the series, making it a successful weekend for the Rebels, certainly from a win-loss standpoint.

But the games are played at a rapid pace now, and Ole Miss at 7-1 hosts Austin Peay Tuesday and Wednesday nights, with each game starting at 6:30.

Ole Miss Coach Mike Bianco plans to start senior left-hander Matt Tracy in one of the games, and freshman right-hander Mike Mayers in the other. He isn't sure at this point which one will go which night.

Bianco said the early road weekend, which he likes each season, served its purpose again – play good competition away from home, get used to traveling like a Southeastern Conference weekend, and hopefully play well and win a series.

"Being on the road for the first time, I thought we did OK," said Bianco, whose team has traveled on early-season weekends like this to New Orleans, Mobile, Fort Worth, Minneapolis, and Los Angeles in recent years and is scheduled to travel to Fort Worth next season to face Texas Christian again. "Saturday I thought we blew it. You hate when you have a game certainly not in the bag when you lead 2-1 in the sixth, but we felt we were in control of the game. We weren't able to extend our lead, and we let them back in on the mound. Just not a very good day for us."

When Trent Rothlin relieved David Goforth, the submariner appeared to have a tighter strike zone. Bianco cannot comment on a situation like that, obviously, but some pitches appeared to be strikes that were called balls, which set the tone for the senior right-hander's short stay on the mound.

Rothlin only threw 11 pitches to three batters, walked two, hit one, and was done.

"It's still disappointing to have the lead and you bring a reliever in and he hits a guy and walks two," Bianco said. "That's not good. Even Tracy gave up a big inning (on Saturday). Everybody but Mayers (whose one inning closed out the loss Saturday) who came in between the starter and Morgan and Huber didn't pitch real well for whatever reason. We've got to do better in the middle innings."

Matt Crouse went 7 innings Friday and is 2-0 on the year
Courtesy: Bruce Newman
Middle relief wasn't the Rebels' strong point all weekend. Matt Tracy allowed three runs on three hits when he relieved Rothlin Saturday for 1.2 innings. Eric Callender on Sunday relieved starter Austin Wright with Ole Miss up 6-3 and lasted just three batters, walking the first Cougar and giving up a base hit to the second one.

Even though the next batter grounded out, Bianco called on Jake Morgan. The senior right-hander pitched the final 3.1 innings, and the Cougars got no more runs in an 8-3 loss. It was Morgan's second save of the year.

Bianco was pleased with his first guys and his last guys on the mound.

"I thought our starting pitching was outstanding all weekend. I thought the closers at the end, (Brett) Huber and (Jake) Morgan, were terrific. And our infield defense has been spectacular, turning double plays and making some nice plays in the field."

Huber went two innings Friday in relief of starter Matt Crouse to get his second save of the year.

"Houston played hard and you can tell they're very well coached," Bianco said. "Their pickoffs and bunt defense, some of those type things, you could tell they are really doing things well. Their first five hitters were really good offensively. And they didn't give us a lot of breaks on the mound. They didn't walk a lot of people. They threw the ball in the strike zone for the most part. They played with emotion."

Matt Smith didn't play Sunday. The senior has a forearm tightness that is affecting him.

"When he extends through to hit the ball it bothers him," Bianco said. "He didn't want to (not play Sunday). He wanted to play. But with it bothering him, I thought it was best. He will see a doctor today and we'll go from there."

Matt Snyder seems to be getting more and more comfortable at the plate. He only had one hit the first two games in Houston but went 3-for-5 Sunday to help take up some slack for Smith's absence.

"He's having no pain at all and looks terrific," Bianco said. "He's really swung it well."

R.J. Hively hasn't pitched since the first Sunday of the season when he struggled against Wright State in relief. He had some arm soreness and hopefully is getting closer to contributing. The junior college transfer right-hander was being counted as one who would come in and help right away.

"He could have pitched (this weekend) for an inning here or there, but I don't think he's 100 percent," Bianco said.

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