Stepping Up

A 3-0 lead in the first inning with Matt Crouse on the mound would normally be thought of as enough for Ole Miss to win a baseball game. But that wasn't the case in the Rebels' 9-8 loss to Georgia Friday night.

Mistakes defensively and Crouse not quite being himself were costly. The Rebels' offense, as the score indicates, was good enough. There were only eight hits but several balls were deep warning track shots or were swallowed up by good defensive plays from Georgia.

"We hit some hard balls," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. "I thought we drove some balls. At night here to center field, it's tough to get it out. A better night, though. We hit a couple of homers. We got some base hits. We were able to get some runs across. But we let them have too many."

Jordan Poole, a true freshman from Calhoun Ga., with power, got the start in right field. He produced with a 2-for-4 night with a run scored and 2 RBI. His ninth-inning shot out of the park to the home bullpen cut the Georgia lead from 9-6 to the final score.

Bianco said the Rebels were searching for more offense, and Poole was an option. And he produced.

"We were looking for somebody to help us," he said. "We wanted to move Matt (Smith) into the infield to take a little pressure off his arm (which has been and remains injured). (Junior college transfer outfielder) Eric Sauls has got a bad arm and can't play. We went to (Poole) and a guy that doesn't have many at-bats made the most of it tonight."

Poole had been injured in the Southern Mississippi game nine days earlier. He crashed into the wall on a catch, which he made, and it resulted in knocking him out and a concussion type situation. He said it was good to be back already and contributing again.

"I was eager to get out here and get that chance," Poole said. "After that freak accident in the Southern Miss game where I knocked myself out, yeah it was good (Friday night against the Bulldogs). My hometown is in Georgia, and it was fun to get out here and show what I could do. I had a good time."

He wished it had been a better time for the team. After their early three-run lead, the Rebels fell behind 6-3 by the middle of the fifth inning, due mainly too multiple errors and mental mistakes. From then on it was catchup the rest of the way.

There is youth on this Rebel team that is being called upon to produce. Poole is one. Preston Overbey, a true freshman who homered as well Friday night, is another. Freshman Austin Anderson has frequent appearences this season and several starts. The same for freshman Will Allen. Freshmen pitchers Mike Mayers and Bobby Wahl have been factors, especially Mayers. Wahl battled early arm injury and is back.

Yarbrough said the team should have had more hits, runs
Bruce Newman
Poole was monitored by doctors and trainers since his head-on crash into the wall at USM. The most amazing part of that particular sequence was when he actually held onto the ball for the out. Until Friday night, that is, when he came back for his first start and produced, just a couple of days after doctors said it was OK to play again.

"I got fully cleared two days ago," Poole said. "When we played Memphis I was able to take BP and throw. Then the next day I was able to do everything. The trainer just told me not to run into any walls if I didn't have to. He said if it came down to it in a game, just go for it. But everything's fine now and I haven't had any problems."

Poole said he was a bit taken aback at being named a starter, but he was ready.

"The nerves were a little bit overwhelming when I found out I was starting," said Poole of his name on the lineup card for the opener against his homestate team. "But I just had to figure out how to control those nerves and I just came out here and played ball."

The Rebel offense was solid but could have been better. Ole Miss hit the baseball as well as it has all season but with fewer results to show than what might have been.

"We have that barrel board (in the locker room) that we count all the times we square balls up. It just seemed like the (number of) hits on the scoreboard didn't really show how successful we were tonight. There were a lot of balls we hit right at people. See the ball well, hit the ball well. Only good things will come from that."

Alex Yarbrough, the Rebels' sophomore second baseman with one of the Rebels' eight hits in the contest, said he and his teammates were a bit unfortunate.

"I felt like we swung the bat really well tonight," he said. "We had a lot of barrels. Eight hits and we could have had twice as many the way we swung it. We hit it well, but we've got to clean it up (defensively) in the field."

The Rebels get another chance at 2 p.m. today in game two of the Ole Miss-Georgia series.

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