Freshman Ready for First Start

Northwestern State saved its ace for Ole Miss, but it didn't help, as the Rebels tore through the Demon hurler Tuesday for seven runs in one and two-thirds innings. Less than 24 hours later, NSU is undecided on its starter, while the home team will walk out a 6-5 left-hander that throws 94 MPH.

Depth, depth and, oh yeah, depth were the common themes associated with Ole Miss during the days preceding the season opener, and Wednesday is a glowing example of exactly what excites the coaching staff. The second midweek game is difficult for almost every team nationally because it requires such a bevy of pitchers during the final round of playing five games in six days.

However, the Rebels have pounded the baseball for four straight games and kept the bullpen from being taxed whatsoever. While the Demons scramble to name a starter, Ole Miss is calling on prize recruit and 12th-round draft pick Drew Pomeranz to continue the momentum.

Pomeranz made his collegiate debut Sunday versus Minnesota and impressed with a plus-fastball and a 12-to-6 curve that baffled the Gophers. The freshman struckout two and hit a batter in his inning of work.

After struggling in the fall, Pomeranz concentrated on improving parts of his game, and the work has paid dividends recently.

The spring has been a rejuvenating time for Pomeranz. He was a contender for the Sunday starting job up until the final week of preseason practice and starred in one of the intrasquads with six strikeouts in three innings.

"I took some time off and then started throwing bullpens to really work on location and hitting my spots," Pomeranz said. "You have to locate your offspeed around here. Missing just a little means trouble."

While he has only tossed one inning at the Division-I level, the Collierville, Tenn., native is battle-tested against an Ole Miss lineup that has been nothing short of fantastic through four games. The newcomer should be prepared for his first start after practicing against an order that is averaging 15 runs per outing.

Pomeranz closed his fall with the start in game one of the annual Pizza Bowl that is coached by active players. The freshman faced a baptism, giving up nine runs on seven hits in just 1.2 innings. It was a sour way to go into a break, but he used that time wisely.

"Everything has to be sharp," Pomeranz said. "The movement has to be there. Straight pitches get hit over the wall. I missed my spot by a couple inches to (Cody) Overbeck; he hit it in the left-field terrace. It will teach you and humble you."

His brother Stuart, who was a second-round pick in 2003, also handed out some pointers to the younger Pomeranz.

"My brother was around to help me and work with me," Drew said. "He watched me throw bullpens and could pick out things. It has been going really well recently."

So well that Mike Bianco is giving Pomeranz the chance to make a major impression Wednesday against Northwestern State. And this time, Ole Miss' offense will finally be on his side.

"It is great to face a team not dressed in red and blue," Pomeranz said. "It can't be any tougher."


Minnesota and Northwestern State would probably say the same thing thus far.

Tuesday Scores from the SEC and other notable games

No. 2 Ole Miss 15 Northwestern State 4

Kentucky 15 Oakland 5

Miss. State 9 UAB 2

LSU 6 Southern 1

Old Dominion 8 No. 4 North Carolina 6

No. 17 San Diego 5 No. 11 Long Beach State 3

La. Monroe 4 Southern Miss. 1

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