Junior LHP Matt Crouse, now 6-0 with a 1.27 ERA, continued to pitch like a Friday night ace. The Rebels, who won game one 6-1, need him to continue to pitch that well as the heart of the SEC schedule is upon them, with a trip to LSU dead ahead. The Tigers are 1-5 in SEC play, which is a surprise, to say the least. Top-ranked Florida won three over LSU, then Georgia took two of three from the Tigers.
Junior RHP David Goforth is as hard luck a pitcher as there's ever been in the Ole Miss baseball program – or at least it seems that way. He's 0-4 this year when he gets a decision and 1-10 during the past two seasons combined. His ERA is an acceptable 3.38 this season, but for some reason the Rebels do not win many games when he pitches. Or so the record shows.
Sometimes Goforth might be a bit off and it costs the Rebels. Other times the team doesn't provide enough hits or run support. Or like Saturday, the Rebels were charged with four errors, and they still only lost by two runs.
It's only a matter of time until Goforth gets a win or two. Or is it? Baseball is a game that usually evens out. For Goforth, that should mean quite a run the rest of the way. Or you would think.
Austin Wright was sensational on Sunday. The junior left-hander is now 3-2 with a 3.06 ERA.
"My changeup felt really good (Sunday)," said Wright, in his first year with the program after a JUCO career at Chipola College in Marianna, Fla. "We just attacked the hitters. It was one of those days. I just threw and everything was working."
"It was great. Our hitters came out. Miles (Hamblin) got a home run right off the bat. It was just a domino effect from there," he said. "We just continued to put runs up."
Wright said he didn't feel any extra pressure knowing Ole Miss had to get a win to claim its first SEC series of the campaign.
"I just went out there like it was another day," he said. "The hitters did great for me. So I just went out there and tried to throw strikes and let (Tennessee) hit it."
Hamblin said Wright was certainly on in this one.
"All day long he was just filling the zone up," said Hamblin, with three hits in the game; Tanner Mathis and Blake Newalu also had three hits each. "He had every pitch, changeup, slider, and especially had his fastball. It was spot on today. It's a catcher's dream to have a day like today. It's just sitting back there and him throwing it right where you want it."
The versatile senior leader said the weekend was important for the Rebels.
"It was our first SEC series win," Hamblin said. "Now we've just got to keep that going."
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said Sunday was a key win as the Rebels remain on the road for the next five games.
"If we (play like) this, it's going to be a lot easier to win baseball games," he said. "There's no doubt we needed this. We needed it for a lot of reasons. To get to 3-3. To get a (series) win on the road. Last week we won on Friday (against Alabama) and then lost Saturday and Sunday. Mentally it was good to recover quickly from a Saturday loss."
Bianco, whose team plays at Southern Mississippi Wednsesday at 6 p.m., was pleased with Wright and how he continues to pitch and improve.
"He just really attacked the zone today and was very aggressive," Bianco said. "And (the Volunteers) were very aggressive. His pitch count can get up there sometimes. But not (Sunday). His pitch count stayed low. He probably could have finished, but we needed to get Bobby (Wahl) out there. It was such a big lead, there was no reason to run (Wright) out there in the ninth.
"(Wright) was terrific," Bianco continued. "Mostly fast balls. Earlyon when he wanted to mix it up he threw some changeups. But he really attacked with his fast ball, and threw a high percentage of fast balls today."
The Rebels led 2-0 in the top of the first inning, and that set the tone for the day.
"You always want to score first," Bianco said. "But especially so when (you're playing a team) that likes to bunt and hit and run and steal and do those types of things. When they get ahead, they can put a lot of pressure on you. We didn't handle it well (Saturday). That was a disappointment. We had opportunities to throw guys out and we didn't. We had opportunities to pick people off and do different things and we couldn't do it.
"(Sunday) we got the lead and the big two-out hit with (Alex) Yarbrough in the first and then Hamblin hit the solo home run (in the second) to get the three-run lead," Bianco continued. "We had so many hits and so many opportunities, we just kept putting runs on (the scoreboard) throughout the game."