The Ole Miss players and coaches hope Tuesday night's 9-8 comeback win against Southern Mississippi is the jump start they need for a successful weekend at 19th-ranked Georgia. But they are all taking a wait and see attitude.
It appears they don't want to get too caught up in a "this game means there's been a turnaround" or "that game means things are still headed in the wrong direction" situation. Such is the case now with a team searching as much mentally as anything else.
At 14-11 overall and 1-5 in Southeastern Conference play, what it appears they want most is to be able to look back over the course of a few games at some point and say, "Wow, we've won five in a row" or "That's six wins in our last seven games" or something similar.
It's what this team hasn't been able to do so far this season – put any positive stretch of success or winning together. They're hopeful on the bus ride home Sunday night from Athens, Ga., that they can be in the midst of a streak of success. That means winning at least two of three games against the SEC East's Bulldogs (18-6 overall, 3-3 in the SEC) at Foley Field.
They didn't necessarily say those numbers, but that would be the type weekend that could get them headed back to where they want to be. Three wins and they are back in the thick of the race with seven weekends remaining.
"Certainly the hope is that it jumpstarts us and brings some positive energy to a team that hasn't had a lot of positive things happen to it over the last few weeks," said Bianco of the win over nationally-ranked USM. "But time will tell. If you start playing well then obviously it will have meant a lot.
"Right now we've played well for a game," Bianco continued. "We've done good things for a game. But we did that the Tuesday before up in Memphis (an 8-4 win over the Tigers), and we didn't follow up on that at Alabama. We didn't follow up the win in game two against Vanderbilt with a win in game three. I'm not trying to be negative. We'd like to think the win (over the Golden Eagles) will help a lot. Hopefully it shows the players that if we keep pushing and keep believing and play a relatively clean game, then we can win."
Team captain Justin Henry says the whole team hopes Tuesday night's win signals more good things to come for the Rebels.
"We need some SEC wins," said the sophomore second baseman. "Winning (against USM) was real big for us mentally. Everybody feels better about themselves. Hopefully that will carryover to the field Friday night and we'll play all weekend like we did Tuesday night."
Tonight's starter for the Rebels will be Craig Rodriguez. It will be the junior left-hander's first start at Ole Miss.
"I think Craig is a good match for them," Bianco said. "We wanted a lefty. He's pitched as well as anybody out of the bullpen. In some of his outings his statistics would be better if some of the people after him would have held his runners from scoring. He's the next guy for us."
The next guy to try on Friday, that is. It's been a carousel of starters for the Rebels on the weekend. Former starter junior RHP Nick Hetland continues to rehab an arm problem and hopes to return to pitch soon. Freshman RHP Lance Lynn, a closer early in the year, seems to have settled into the Sunday spot. Freshman RHP Cody Satterwhite moves to the Saturday position this weekend after having a shot at Friday last weekend. Junior LHP Garrett White started last Saturday.
The Friday position was first held by Tommy Baumgardner for five games, and the senior left-hander compiled a 2-3 record. Then Satterwhite got the nod last Friday in Tuscaloosa, struggled in the first inning and was done.
Rodriguez, who had a slow fall but came on in the preseason and lately out of the bullpen, says he's ready to give it his best tonight.
"I'm excited to be given the opportunity," said Rodriguez, who is 0-0 in 19.2 innings pitched with a 5.03 ERA in nine appearances, all in relief. "I just want to go out there and give it my all. Hopefully that will be enough to get us a win."
Rodriguez, from Sugarland, Texas, but who came to Ole Miss from Pearl River Community College in Mississippi, says he's worked to get his game to this level after the slower than expected start.
"We've been working on all my mechanics," he said. "Everything feels so different now from the fall. I feel like I used to. I feel like I belong out there now. I just want to go out there and get one out at a time one inning at a time. Just go out there and give us a chance to win."
Bianco said Rodriguez was brought in for situations just like these.
"That Craig is in this position is not a shocker for us," he said. "He was recruited to do this. He signed early a year ago as a junior college kid. We knew we were going to lose (Mark) Holliman and the other guys. Craig was one of the kids recruited to be a weekend starter. So it's not really out of the blue, although it may seem that way."
Bianco says it would be understandable if Satterwhite's confidence is shaken a bit after two tough performances (start at Alabama on Friday; relief against USM Tuesday night).
"But I think he's smart enough, and we've talked about it, that if you're going to pitch in this game long enough, there will be days like that," he said. "There will be days when you walk out there and it's tough to get it in the zone or it's tough to get them out. He's like all of us. He has to continue to believe in himself and believe in his talents and believe there are a lot of good days in front of him. I think we all believe that will happen for him and for this team."
*** The weekend matchups look like these - (the following notes were complied by Bill Bunting – UM athletics media relations):
(All times Central)
Friday, 6:00 P.M.
UGA - Brooks Brown (Sr., RHP, 3-1, 37.0 IP, 2.43 ERA)
UM- Craig Rodriguez (Jr., LHP, 0-0, 19.2 IP, 5.03 ERA)
NOTING RODRIGUEZ: Rodriguez is making his first start for the Rebels after
nine relief appearances on the season. In that time, Rodriguez has struck
out 19 and walked seven, while allowing seven earned runs out of 11 scored.
For more detailed information see Rodriguez's bio on page ??.
SATURDAY, 3 P.M.
UGA - Mickey Westphal (Jr, LHP, 2-0, 22.0 IP, 4.91 ERA)
UM - Cody Satterwhite (Fr., RHP, 4-1, 28.2 IP, 5.65 ERA)
NOTING SATTERWHITE: Satterwhite moves back to Saturday starts where he has
posted a 4-0 record in five starts. In his time on the mound, Satterwhite
has struck out 22 while walking 18 and allowed 18 earned runs. For more
detailed information on Satterwhite, see his bio on page ??.
UGA - Trevor Holder (Fr., RHP, 2-0, 23.2 IP, 3.42 ERA)
UM - Lance Lynn (Fr., RHP, 1-2, 28.0 IP, 4.50 ERA)
NOTING LYNN: Lance Lynn continues to start on Sunday, making his fifth
start in seven appearances. Lynn worked a solid 5.1 innings against Alabama
on Sunday, allowing only one run and leaving the game with a 2-1 lead. Lynn
has struck out 27 while walking 13 batters. For more detailed information
on Lynn , see his bio on page ??.
LAST TIME OUT:
Ole Miss rallied in the bottom of the eighth to take a 9-8 lead on a two
RBI single from Chris Coghlan to beat 20th-ranked Southern Miss on Tuesday.
Garrett White picked up the win after coming in to relieve Cody Satterwhite
in a save situation, but gave up a grand slam to give USM an 8-7 lead in
the top of the eighth.
All three games this weekend can be heard on the Ole Miss Radio Network and
locally in Oxford on WTNM Supertalk Mississippi 105.5 FM. Air time is 25
minutes prior to first pitch with David Kellum and Richard Cross.
Live audio and in-game statistics will be available on the official Ole
Miss athletic web site, www.OleMiss Sports.com. Live streaming video and
audio will be available at www.OleMissSports.TV. Saturday's game will be
archived for later viewing due to SEC rules prohibiting broadcasting the
game between 3-6 p.m. on Saturday's.
Saturday and Sunday's games can be heard on Sirius 121.
Georgia leads the series 26-20.
Ole Miss won the last series 2-1 in Oxford.
Ole Miss will continue to play on the road, heading to Trustmark Park in
Pearl, Miss. (near Jackson), to take on the 20th-ranked Southern Miss Golden Eagles.
Rebs hope to carry momentum from Tuesday
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