On the road again. That's the Ole Miss Rebel baseball team.
A squad that hadn't traveled all season has been across the country and back in the past six days and today crosses the Mississippi River again for another game, this time by bus.
The Rebels got back to Oxford from Los Angeles at 6 p.m. Monday, and a physically and mentally tired group practiced Monday night to correct some things they've been doing wrong. It wasn't any type punishment for losing three of their last four games. Coach Mike Bianco said the Rebels just aren't doing some things well right now and they needed to work to correct them.
"We have to play better," Bianco said, whose team stands at 10-6 on the season. "Offensively we just had a bad weekend and just aren't getting it done. So we worked tonight (Monday) on some things to try to get better in that area. In a lot of games, especially lately, we just haven't looked like ‘our' offense. That's some of what we talked about and worked on tonight."
That isn't to say that Bianco feels the rest of the areas on the team are A-OK. He is pleased with some things but says there is still room for improvement.
"Pitching wasn't real good overall either out there," Bianco said. "Defensively I felt we were sharp. We're fielding a higher percentage at this point this year than we were last year. But pitching, there were some bright spots. I thought Cody Satterwhite really competed hard (Saturday). He battled his rear end off and gave us a chance to win. That's what you want out of a starter.
"Garrett White was real strong (in relief) both Saturday and Sunday. Will Kline had perhaps his best two back to back outings here (Friday, Sunday) and pitched like the Will Kline we always thought he could be. Craig Rodriguez did allright. He gave up a home run but he got some big outs and kept the game in check."
Bianco says the Rebels just weren't sharp enough in LA.
"Like defensively we had a chance to turn two double plays Friday night and didn't," he said of the 9-2 loss. "After those potential double plays weren't turned, three runs scored off each of those. We were leading the SEC in double plays. If we turn those like we normally do, it's a different ball game."
Bianco says his troops will continue to battle through what has turned into a tough stretch of games.
"We're not playing very well, and every club will have that stretch during a season," he said. "How do you respond? How do you handle the adversity? The good news is as bad as we're playing, with just a couple of improvements here and there, then we're OK. We had opportunities to score and didn't. We're not that far away."
Bianco says the pitching rotation for the first weekend of SEC play will remain the same – Tommy Baumgardner Friday, Cody Satterwhite Saturday, and Lance Lynn Sunday.
Bianco said one word best describes his team to this point – inconsistency.
"No doubt that's been us," he said. "Throughout the ballclub and throughout the season, that's the way it's been."
Tonight in Jonesboro against Arkansas State, freshman LHP Brett Bukvich is back on the mound. He struggled in the first game against the Indians, a part of that damaging 10-run second inning that cost the Rebels the game, a 14-9 loss.
Bukvich started again last Tuesday against Murray State in a 9-3 UM win. He worked 6.0 innings, allowing no runs on four hits as he walked two and struck out seven in earning his first collegiate win. Nobody on the team is more excited about another chance to play ASU than Bukvich.
"I can't wait," he said. "After that first game, I've been waiting on this one for two weeks. Strange things happened to us that day. But my hat's still off to Arkansas State. They came out swinging."
Bukvich said the fact that he is starting again against a team he had so much trouble with the first time is all that needs to be said.
"I'm really motivated to get back out there," he said. "I'm glad I was able to pitch well last Tuesday (against Murray State). That helped me get back on track. Hopefully I can just go out there and throw again (tonight) and help us get a win."
The Indians are 9-8 and have been swept at Mississippi State since leaving Oxford and also lost two of three games against Missouri State this past weekend.
Tonight's game is set for 6:30 p.m. Airtime on the statewide Ole Miss radio network is at 6:05 p.m.
The Rebels' next action is Friday night at 6:30 p.m. against Vanderbilt in Oxford as SEC play begins for 2006.
Rebels head to ASU for game at 6:30 tonight
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