The myriad of Rebels accumulating playing time over the weekend reached a staggering number, while sophomore Phillip Irwin simply watched and waited.
Twenty-nine players including 12 pitchers combined to bruise and batter the Gophers for three straight days, but Irwin wasn't one of the many to contribute in the onslaught. Instead, he will be in charge of keeping the proverbial ball rolling Tuesday.
The sophomore right-hander will take the hill at 3 p.m. when the second-ranked Rebels (3-0) open a two-game series against Northwestern State (2-1) at Swayze Field. It is the continuation of a ten-game homestand to begin the season. The two teams finish up Wednesday at 3 p.m. with Drew Pomeranz making his first career start for Ole Miss.
"The depth on this staff is incredible, so you just wait for your time and make the most of it," Irwin said. "I prefer starting, but I know that there are only so many innings to go around. To take advantage of the opportunities presented is the important thing."
Irwin finished his freshman campaign with a 2-0 record and 3.07 ERA in nine appearances. The Tennessee native struckout 11 and walked ten. His two victories came in relief against Belmont and a start versus Austin Peay.
Opposing Irwin will be the Demons' Heath Hennigan, who was 4-3 with a 4.76 ERA in 2007. NSU has yet to determine a starter for Wednesday's matchup. The Demons opened the season with a series victory over Grambling, winning Friday and Sunday but falling Saturday.
"They're a really good ball club," said J.P. Davis, who is in his first year as head coach after serving as pitching coach for the last seven seasons. "They've got all the tools it takes to be a winner. They have great hitting and pitching. We're looking forward to the challenge."
For the Demons to be successful, they will need designated hitter Mike Jaworski to continue his lofty production. Jaworski hit .700 on the opening weekend, with two home runs, two doubles four RBI and five runs scored. Also, shortstop Denney Choate is batting .500 with a RBI and run scored.
"It is all about helping the team out," Irwin said. "We have goals in mind, and we need everybody to step up and fill roles. I'll do everything I can, no matter what my role is."
Ole Miss and Northwestern State split a midweek series one game apiece in 2005 at Oxford.
Notes: Cullan Kight is available after serving a three-game suspension…Matt Smith tore his UCL but has begun rehab and could return to first base in three to six weeks. Batting from the DH spot sooner is possible depending on his tolerance to pain…Mike Bianco served as a graduate assistant at Northwestern State in 1991 and 1992 under current Alabama head coach Jim Wells.
Second-ranked Rebels host Demons
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