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Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said after Tuesday night's loss at Memphis he wasn't sure what was going on with his team in certain areas. By Thursday he said he believed he knew.

"Just too much going on in the heads," he said. "When you look and watch, why does this guy swing at this pitch and let this pitch go? The guys that don't hit well are the guys that don't go up with a lot of confidence. Baseball is such a mental game."

Appropriately so for Masters week, Bianco compared it to golf.

"If you're not thinking the right thing, you've got no shot," he said. "The reaction time from the time it comes out (of the pitcher's hand) to the time it reaches the catcher's mit is like .4 seconds. You've got to be able to make a decision in .2 seconds. Then you've got to put the bat on the ball that's coming 90 miles an hour moving.

"When you go up there and there are a lot of things you're thinking about – I want to go after a fast ball, don't swing at a curve ball, hope he doesn't throw me a changeup, I need to get a base hit so I can stay in the lineup – whatever they could be thinking. When there's so much in the head, it's hard to succeed."

So the coaches try to help players overcome that.

"You keep talking and you've got to teach them. It's just like a guy standing over a putt. You see it all the time. Then he steps away, because he either heard something or the wind blew, or something. So instead of thinking about the putt, he's thinking about the noise or the (camera) flash.


Matt Crouse
"The same in baseball. And I think there's a lot of that. Why, and why there's a lot at one time, I don't know. Some of it I'm sure is youth. Some of it is guys got off to slow starts – older guys - and that puts pressure on younger guys. Feeling the pressure. So a lot of that.

"So we ask how did we look that bad on Tuesday night or how did we look that bad on Sunday afternoon? It's a part of learning how to play the game. We have to have a better plan and be more focused and locked in."

Bianco addressed pinch-hitting Thursday. He said the lack of success in that situation all year is one of the reasons the Rebels' offensive numbers are not what they need to be.

"When you've looked at the stats as much as we have this year, it's amazing," he said of the lack of success with pinch hitters. "It's part of the reason we're hitting .285. It's one of those things that it's amazing it's that low. Most of those pinch-hit at-bats are young guys or new guys. We're hitting like .100 (in pinch hit situations). The SEC average is like .250."

Bianco said he has gotten a lot of questions about matchups.

"In 2009, I did it more that year than any," Bianco said of the Rebels' SEC Championship season. "That's the reason we won. I could bring (Michael) Hubbard off the bench, and he hit .300. I could bring (Jeremy) Travis off the bench, and he hit .300. Some of that I think is good. Some of that takes the pressure off the other guys.

"A lot of it happens early in the season because as a coach, I think you want to put them into position to succeed. I don't consider myself that, but it must be the perception."

Ole Miss has only four left-handed pitchers this season, and three of them are starters – Crouse and Wright on the weekend and Matt Tracy in the midweek. Jon Andy Scott has one appearance this season in relief.

"I don't think it has anything to do with the matchups. I don't think we do that as much offensively as it has to do with just trying to find some success."

Ole Miss hosts Georgia for three games this weekend, and the Rebels (19-11, 4-5 SEC) are trying to find more success. They've lost four of their last five games after winning two of three games at Tennessee to start the eight-game road swing.

Georgia is a team that's coming on strong. The Bulldogs are only 16-14 overall, but they've won their last five games. In Southeastern Conference action, they are 6-3.

Bianco said the Rebels will be facing a Georgia team that apparently has its strength on the mound.

"Obviously they've pitched really, really well, he said. "Offensively it seems like they've struggled a little bit. But in conference play they've pitched so well they only have to score a few runs, as well as they've pitched."

The success in their five-game winning streak begins with a pitching staff that has posted a 1.40 ERA in this stretch. Last weekend, Georgia swept Mississippi State and then followed that up with a two-game sweep of Charleston Southern.

The Bulldogs will have the same rotation this weekend against the Rebels as in previous SEC series with sophomore Alex Wood on Friday and juniors Michael Palazzone and Craig Gullickson on Saturday and Sunday. This Bulldog trio is a combined 6-1 with a 2.17 ERA in league action this year.


Matt Smith
Wood (3-3, 3.40 ERA) is a sophomore left-hander, while Palazzone (4-1, 2.14) is a junior right-hander and Gullickson (3-1, 4.38) is a junior left-hander.

Georgia features the national saves leader in Tyler Maloof who is 11-for-11 in save chances this year. Overall, the Bulldogs have 13 saves in their 16 wins. The other two saves belong to sophomore Blake Dieterich and senior Eric Swegman. Georgia will be without Swegman this weekend due to a right shoulder injury. Swegman was involved in a scooter accident on campus Thursday morning. He collected his first career save Wednesday against Charleston Southern.

Offensively, Georgia is led by sophomore shortstop Kyle Farmer who has a team-high 29 RBI and an eight-game hitting streak. After just one home run in the first two SEC series, Georgia hit four in the sweep of MSU. The blasts came from Farmer, first baseman Jonathan Hester and two by sophomore designated hitter Brett DeLoach.

Ole Miss junior left-hander Matt Crouse enters the weekend series with Georgia looking to rebound after his first loss of the season (and only second loss since April 13, 2010). Crouse had taken nine straight decisions before a loss at No. 17 LSU. Despite that outing, Crouse has turned in stellar numbers this year boosted by an almost scoreless month of March with Crouse on the mound. The junior has struck out 39 and walked only five in 48.1 innings of work. He is holding opponents to a .217 batting average against.

Junior David Goforth enters the weekend series with the Bulldogs coming off his first win of the season at No. 17 LSU. The right-hander worked 6.0 innings and allowed only two runs as he held the Tigers in check during his time on the mound. For the season, the junior's 1-4 record belies his performance on the mound as he holds a 3.32 ERA and opponents are only batting at a .266 clip against Goforth. In his 43.1 innings of work, he has struck out 28 and walked 16 while allowing only 16 earned runs in his seven starts.

Junior Austin Wright makes his eighth start of the year when he takes the mound on Sunday against the Bulldogs. The left-hander is coming off a tough outing at LSU last weekend, but holds a 3.96 ERA on the year and has struck out 36 and walked only 12 in his 38.2 innings of work. He is also holding opponents to a .280 batting average against in his time on the mound.

Jake Morgan won't be available to pitch again for at least two weeks. The coaches and trainer have shut him down to allow his shoulder situation more time to heal.


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