Back In Action

It's a different kind of week for Ole Miss baseball. TV is the main cause.

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ESPNU will televise the Rebels and Georgia Bulldogs Thursday night in Athens, backing up the regular weekly schedule a day. That meant a two-game series scheduled months ago with Central Arkansas had to be changed today to a rare doubleheader.

The games will be seven-innings each, and the Rebels (21-10) are looking forward to getting back on the field following a series loss at Kentucky last weekend.

Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco sends freshman Sam Smith to the mound for game one today. Because there are five games in the next five days, Bianco said pitching will obviously be monitored closely.

"We aren't sure who will start the second game. A lot depends on who throws in the first," Bianco said. "After Smith you will see a lot of guys. But a lot of guys can't throw a lot of innings, just because they haven't. Hopefully we'll get to use some people (Tuesday), but I wouldn't look for any of those guys to go more than maybe a few innings."

Hitting Evaluations:

Ole Miss hitting coach Cliff Godwin said the players and coaches are as frustrated as anyone when the Rebels don't come away with more runs and leave so many opportunities on the bases.

"I heard Matt Snyder talk about it being frustrating," he said. "Anytime you're just so close, and the Friday night game is the one that really comes back to you. You feel like we should have won that game. We had three guys thrown out at the plate. I don't think I've ever had two guys thrown out at the plate, and we had three."

Sometimes things just work out for the opposing team, and Godwin said he understands that.

"If I had to make every decision I did on Friday night, I'd make it the same way," he said. "I'm confident in my decision making. It's not always going to be right. Sometimes you take chances, but they're calculated risks. Their centerfielder made two great plays on Friday night and threw two guys out."

Godwin said the staff constantly evaluates things to try to become more productive.

"We've got to focus on stringing a lot of quality at-bats together rather than having two or three and scoring one run," he said. "If we can have five quality at-bats an inning, then we're pretty much guaranteed to score more than one run. That's what we've got to keep focusing on doing."

Matt Snyder
Bruce Newman

Snyder said the Rebels are close to getting the job done. It's often a matter of timing.

"It's about coming up and keeping the momentum going," he said. "Having a guy come in with runners on second and third and hitting a double. Stuff like that. And to stay out of the big inning for the other team. If we can do those type things, we're in good shape. Everybody is going up there focused and trying to get the job done."

Snyder said it's tough when the team knows it can get the job done and doesn't come through.

"It's really, really frustrating," he said. "You get all the hits you get, and you're just not getting the runs for it. It's just frustrating to see how many hits we've had and not having more to show for it."

Snyder said the Rebels have to stay the course because they're doing what it takes to be successful.

"Everybody's up there trying to do the best they can," he said. "We just need to keep putting ourselves in the situation where we can do that. Keep getting guys on and trying to get guys in."

Bear facts:

Central Arkansas enter the Tuesday doubleheader with an overall record of 13-15 and are coming off a series win over Southeastern Louisiana. Central Arkansas dropped the first game before coming back to win the second and third games of the series.

The Bears are hitting .279 as a team with 11 home runs and 152 RBI. Forrest Allday leads the Bears with a .367 average, while Ethan Harris has tallied a team-best three home runs and 24 RBI.

The Central Arkansas pitching staff has a 4.32 ERA and have posted 191 strikeouts while allowing 101 walks. Teams are hitting at a .262 clip against the Bears.

Bryce Biggerstaff, the game one starter, holds a 1.88 ERA with a 1-2 record and has posted 15 strikeouts to six walks in his 24 innings of work. He has made two starts for Central Arkansas this season.

Bianco breaks things down:

Bianco on Wahl: "Threw (Sunday). Felt pretty good. Not really any different soreness than a normal start. So he should be fine (to start at Georgia on Thursday). In using his terms, his arm felt dead. No specific area where it was sore. It just felt tired. His velocity wasn't bad but not like it's been. You could tell he was laboring probably more. Even warming up in the bullpen, Carl (Lafferty) said he didn't have a good bullpen leading up to the game. Just felt his arm was tired, and that happens. Sometimes you need time off, but I don't that that's going to be a factor. At least I don't think so. He should be fine."

Bianco on delaying R.J.'s start for a day: "Talking to Tony Barnett, our trainer, and (R.J.), he felt fine (Sunday), felt fine today. Day after (pitching) rehab and what he normally does, nothing out of the ordinary for him. Nobody knows. You're on a bus for seven and a half hours, you're sleeping, laying on it, anything could have made it a little tender, because he was fine in his bullpen on Wednesday. He was fine the next day getting on the bus. But when we got there, there was some soreness in his tricep. It was a lot better Saturday and he probably could have thrown (Saturday). But he felt it a little bit and Mike (Mayers) was ready. We felt it was a little better to hold (R.J.) back one more day." Bianco on the rotation this weekend: "We'll probably decide that in the next day or two. We'll talk to (R.J.) and talk to Mike. We might move it back the way it was (prior to the UK series)."

Bianco on Blake Newalu's injury and having to exit the game early on Sunday: "In talking to Tony (Barnett), he should be fine. He had a slight hyper extension (throwing arm). He probably can play (Tuesday)."

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