Rebel pitchers off to good start

It had long ago been decided Lance Lynn and Cody Satterwhite would be the first two Rebel starters on the first weekend of the season. That third game starter was up in the air, although Nathan Baker was near the top of the list all along.

So when Baker was announced a week ago as the Sunday starter against Minnesota, it was no big surprise. The 6-foot-3, 187-pound sophomore had started 12 games for the Rebels last season, several of them in that Sunday starter role, amassing a 6-2 record with a 3.92 ERA in 64.1 innings. He caught the eye of Collegiate Baseball's voters who named him a Freshman All-America.

On Sunday, the talented, personable left-hander picked up right where he left off and shut the Golden Gophers down for five innings. His final line read three hits, five strikeouts, two walks, and no damage.

"The main thing about today was throwing it into the strike zone," said the Cordova (Tenn.) High graduate. "I had that adrenaline going, and I hadn't faced anybody from another team in a long time. It was good to pitch to somebody who didn't have an Ole Miss jersey on."

Minnesota likely wishes it hadn't seen any of the pitchers the Rebels threw over the three-game series. The Golden Gophers scored 10 runs on the weekend, but they weren't really in any game.

The Rebel pitchers, who collectively ended the weekend with an ERA of 2.00, were outstanding for a first weekend. Lynn, Satterwhite, Baker, Scott Bittle, Rory McKean, Justin Cryer, Thomas Flautt, Jake Morgan, Drew Pomeranz, and Matt Tracy, all ended their first weekend of work with a 0.00 ERA.

With so much offensive activity going on for Ole Miss each game, it was hard for the Rebel pitchers to stay loose. Early in Sunday's game, Baker came out of the dugout with a catcher and began to throw on the warning track to stay ready.

"In the first and second innings, my fast ball was working well," Baker said. "But I started getting a little tired, just because I wasn't used to sitting down that long between innings. It's hard to sit for 30 minutes and go back out there and throw with the same velocity."

Pomeranz, a Collierville (Tenn.) High product, made his first appearance as a Rebel on Sunday. The 6-5, 225, left-handed freshman got off to a positive start in his only inning of work.

"It was fun getting out there and getting my first appearance out of the way," said Pomeranz, who faced four batters, struck out two, and hit one. "I just went out there to get some outs."

Pomeranz, who topped out at 94 mph Sunday, said he had a goal in mind as he headed to the mound, along with getting past some of those first-game jitters.

"I wanted to throw strikes," he said. "I wanted to pack the zone. I wanted to get those guys to chase it. They'd been swinging a lot this weekend.

"I was pretty loose," he continued. "I had a lot of adrenaline going in front of all these fans. It felt great, though."

Coach Mike Bianco was pleased with Baker, Pomeranz, and the others who worked for Ole Miss on Sunday.

"Nathan was terrific and you need that from your starters," Bianco said. "Pump a lot of balls into the zone and get a rhythm and start to roll. Then (RS freshman) Jake Morgan came in and a lot of people might not understand how difficult your first outing of the year is, let alone your first college outing. So it's neat to watch Morgan and (Drew) Pomeranz and (true freshman Matt) Tracy run out there for their first time and pitch like they're veterans."

Unless you're the opposing team. Ask Minnesota.

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