There are several things. One is how to push through difficult travel circumstances, which has been the case with trips to UCLA, Minnesota, and now TCU. All three long-distance, non-conference trips have had their challenges.
This one, with all its travel delays, an early Saturday a.m. arrival, and very little rest before playing a doubleheader the first day, was tough. Not as easy as jumping out of your own bed and heading to your own field for a game.
That's one of the reasons they do it. The challenge of it. To learn how to handle it. There are other long trips like this one this season – to South Carolina, Georgia, and Kentucky.
In some respects, the Rebels didn't respond. They did in game one with a 3-1 win behind the able arms of Lance Lynn and Scott Bittle. The two combined to keep the Horned Frogs shut down as the Rebels were able to push enough runs across for victory.
What might have been a springboard to at least win the series didn't happen, and Ole Miss fell the next two games 5-4 and 2-1.
Yes, that's 2-1 on a Sunday as TCU's second pitcher in the finale went two and a third with two strikeouts, no hits or walks in facing eight batters with no damage. Eric Marshall is a junior. He had pitched two and two-thirds innings his entire career – before today.
That was the weekend in a nutshell as the Rebels couldn't produce enough offense to overcome decent TCU pitching. The Rebel defense was good enough, save one dropped catchable ball which ended game two. And the pitching was more than adequate to win all three games.
In game two, Cody Satterwhite didn't have his stuff because a hamstring injury, well, hamstrung him. He's day to day and should pitch against Mississippi State next weekend. But it is wait and see.
Satterwhite went just three innings, allowing four runs on five hits with a walk, no strikeouts, and two hit batsmen. Rory McKean entered and was terrific in the middle innings of game two, going five innings with no runs on two hits with two strikeouts and a walk.
Justin Cryer came in and had things all set up to move to the tenth, until the dropped ball in center.
On Sunday, Nathan Baker (5.1 IP, 5 hits, 2 runs, 3 strikeouts, 2 walks) did a nice job holding the Horned Frogs at bay until the Rebels could get something, anything, going offensively, which they never did. And Drew Pomeranz (2.2 IP, 3 hits, 1 strikeout) came in to do the same, and still nothing from the Rebel O.
Pomeranz. You've gotta love what the future holds for that kid at Ole Miss. He's on track to be special.
It's a big ballpark here, with dimensions just like Swayze used to have, except for one alley. It's 330, 380, 400, 375, 330. The wind blew in strongly in both games Saturday. On Sunday it wasn't as windy but still in the face of the plate and across toward the third base dugout.
"Runs were at a premium, and you have to scratch out your opportunities," Coach Mike Bianco said. "We had chances and a lot of our rallies started with two outs. They (TCU) had a guy at third base today and hit a swinging bunt and dribbled the last guy in (for their second run). We have to do things like that. You can say whatever you want, but we have to do that.
"We talked in pregame that we were not going to get 15 or 20 hits a game. We need to get runs however we can. In doing so, it will lead to other opportunities. Today we didn't really have that."
Bianco said he was pleased with the pitching this weekend.
"But it's tough to lose on Sunday when you give up only two runs," he said, still wondering to some degree where the Rebel offense was.
The Rebels will take some things with them from this trip. They have learned some things that will help them as the season moves on. They will become a better baseball team having been through this.
"Hopefully they (Rebels) learned that we have to scratch out runs," Bianco said again. "You have to have more opportunities to score. That's the lesson without a doubt. You have to do do some things offensively to make it happen. They (Frogs) did. They did more than we did."
But what they don't leave here with is what they came here for, and that was a series win – at least two but preferably three.
It was host TCU which got things done. When game three ended, it was almost like the Horned Frogs were headed to Omaha. There was a dogpile of at least some proportions, and players were jumping on each other and high-fiving. Half an hour later when they tarped the field after the Rebels had left the premises, the TCU players were still clearly jubilant to have won the series from the second-ranked team in the nation.
The Rebels obviously wanted to win this series, but the Horned Frogs took matters to another level. This series meant a lot to them individually and collectively, and no moment proved that more than their actions after they had won game three.
Now the Rebels head home to regroup. Western Kentucky is up next on Tuesday and Wednesday nights in Oxford. Brett Bukvich and Phillip Irwin will start against the Hilltoppers in the two games this midweek.
Then it's on to Mississippi State to open SEC play. As hard as it is to believe, conference play has arrived.
"We have a big week ahead of us," Logan Power said. "We want to put this past week behind us."
The 10-3 Rebels have lost three of their last five games. Baseball will do that to you, even when you are the more talented team on the field, which the Rebels were against Arkansas State and TCU.
Hopefully the trip to Starkville, given the distance from Oxford, won't be as stressful and will produce more wins for the Rebels than the one out here did.
Because when all is said and done and everything is evaluated, that's the main reason for playing.
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