Tommy Baumgardner is having the fall he had hoped for.
The Rebel senior left-hander was one of the few returning pitchers from last season's staff. It was important for him to come through – not only for himself but also for the team.
Through three intrasquad outings this fall, the Lakeland, Fla., and Indian River Community College product has arguably been the Rebels' best pitcher. Statistically he is the clear-cut leader at this point.
"I feel pretty good about how the fall has gone," said Baumgardner, who has pitched nine scrimmage innings with an ERA of 1.00. "I've just tried to stay ahead of the hitters and work on some things each day. I feel I've got a shot at starting (on the weekends) this spring, and that's what I'm really aiming for."
Rebel hitting has been outstanding all fall. But when Baumgardner's been on the mound, it's been much less stellar. The Ole Miss hitters are batting .194 against Baumgardner, going 6-for-31 so far.
Beyond that, the 6-foot-3, 230-pounder, mostly a reliever last year with 22 appearances but only two starts, has four strikeouts, allowed only one walk, only one earned run and had no wild pitches nor given up any home runs. He has hit two batters, but other than that his charts have been mostly clean.
"I have a lot of confidence on the mound," said Baumgardner, was had a 2-1 record last spring with a 2.38 ERA in 45.1 innings of work. "I'm trying to carry myself a lot better and be a leader. We've got a younger team, so as a senior I've got to try to help lead the guys and show them what it takes to compete in this league and at this level."
Baumgardner set his sights on being a starter for the Rebels as soon as this past season was over. He knows he will need to continue to work as he has as fall turns into winter and preseason practice begins officially in mid-January.
"I worked toward it all summer. I've been getting ready to step in and be a leader and a starter for months," he said. "That's not just something you can turn on, but you have to approach it and deal with it and take it as it comes. As a senior with the most innings of the returners from last year, in my mind I put myself as the head guy and had to think that it's pretty much my job to lose."
If indeed Baumgardner is at the head of the class among pitchers this fall, he isn't relying on what he could already do up until this point. Mostly a fast ball and slider pitcher, he has worked this fall to develop a changeup to increase his arsenal and help the team.
"Coming out of the pen, I was mainly a two-pitch guy," said Baumgardner, who will turn 22 on Saturday of this week. "I worked on a changeup a lot over the summer. I really needed a third pitch for consistency and to just get people out. Getting three pitches for strikes and keeping my pitch count low is important."
Coach Mike Bianco says Baumgardner hasn't necessarily been a surprise this fall, but it is good to see him pitching so well.
"Tommy has been just about flawless out there for us," Bianco said recently. "That's been really good to see from him."
In other Rebel baseball notes from this past weekend, the Rebels continued to hit the baseball well with sophomore catcher Alex Kliman going 3-for-3 in game one Friday with a double, two home runs, and four RBI.
Junior third baseman Chris Coghlan continues to pound the ball all over the place, going 3-for-4 in game one Friday with a double and two RBI. But on Sunday the Rebel all-star was even more impressive, going 5-for-5 with three doubles and three RBI.
In game two Friday, junior centerfielder Alex Presley was 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI. Freshman infielder Cullan Kight also homered.
In Sunday action, freshman infielder Devin Hicks homered, while senior first baseman C.J. Ketchum had three hits on the day.
Several pitchers stepped up over the weekend. Junior RHP Nick Hetland, with good stats this fall, continues to work through an apparent muscle pull in his back. He pitched Sunday and felt pretty good afterwards.
Sophomore RHP Brooks Villar got a win in game one Friday, pitching two innings and allowing one run on three hits.
Freshman RHP Chase Ware pitched four innings with no runs on three hits and one walk. He got a save in game one Friday. Freshman RHP Rory McKean pitched three innings and allowed only one run on one hit.
Senior RHP Stoney Stone pitched four innings in game two Friday and was his most impressive of the fall so far – with seven strikeouts and only one earned run in four innings, picking up a save. Freshman RHP Wade Broyles went four innings with four strikeouts and one run, the home run to Kight.
Freshman RHP Walker Sudduth went four innings in Friday's game two, allowing no runs on one hit with one strikeout. Freshman LHP Brett Bukvich had three strikeouts and two walks but gave up the home run to Presley, the only hit Bukvich allowed that particular game.
Freshman Cody Satterwhite pitched two and two-thirds innings, allowing four runs on five hits with three strikeouts and three walks. He hit 95 on the radar gun.
Freshman RHP Lance Lynn also pitched two and two-thirds innings, allowing four runs on three hits with two strikeouts and a walk.
The Rebels will intrasquad again at least three games this weekend. Times should be announced by Tuesday.
It was a doubly bad day for Auburn at Ole Miss on Sunday. Both the Tiger women's volleyball and women's soccer teams went down to defeat at the hands of the Rebels.
Coach Joe Getzin's volleyball team picked up its first Southeastern Conference win of the season, blanking Auburn 3-0 in the Gillom Center.
On the soccer field just a few short feet away, Coach Steve Holeman's crew had a first-place showdown with Auburn. The Rebels led the SEC West coming in with a 4-1 record, while Auburn was 3-2 and in second place.
Ole Miss won the SEC West in women's soccer in 1999 and again in 2000. Auburn had won the title for four straight seasons since. No doubt these are the two premier soccer programs in the SEC West.
On Sunday they both proved to be just that as they battled to a scoreless 0-0 tie in 90 minutes of regulation play, to a scoreless tie in the first 10-minute overtime period, and came within 13 seconds of ending the game as a scoreless 0-0 tie in the second OT.
In NCAA women's soccer, there are two 10-minute overtimes, if needed. If neither team has scored to break the tie at that point, the game simply ends in a tie.
So when Rebel freshman Jennifer Hance scored on a header (that means she hit the ball into the net with a shot off her head) from a UM corner kick only 13 seconds short of a tie, needless to say the Ole Miss players, coaches, and fans in attendance went crazy.
"This was a special win," said Holeman, now in his 11th season at Ole Miss after being head coach at, ironically, Auburn prior to coming to Oxford. "Auburn has been so dominant the past few years. We were there before and have been striving to reach that level again. Today's win takes us one step closer to our goal of a championship."
Holeman said the fact that he was once the head coach at Auburn has nothing to do with Sunday's win over the Tigers being special. He says it's been way too long since he left the plains to include that as a reason to celebrate a key victory.
"This win was special because Auburn is the four-time SEC West champs," said Holeman, trying to get the Rebels back to that particular winners circle where they were in 1999 and 2000. "We want to be champions again, and that's why beating Auburn today was so important. No other reason."
Ole Miss soccer, now 11-3 on the season and 5-1 in SEC play, will be back in action Friday night in Oxford against South Carolina at 7 p.m. immediately prior to the basketball teams' Rebel Roundup, which begins at 9 p.m. at C.M. "Tad" Smith Coliseum.
The Rebel soccer team also hosts Florida at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
A look back at UM weekend baseball, soccer
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