When Ole Miss and Vanderbilt have gotten together the last few seasons, it's been a matchup of two of the league's best teams. This year is no exception, although the conference has yet to shake out enough to clearly see where these or any teams stack up.
What was most important to draw from these two victories? Hard to know where to start.
In game one, Scott Bittle. Last season Bittle's first two hiccups, which later became a hacking cough, started at Vanderbilt with blown saves Friday and Sunday. It was the first SEC weekend of the year in 2007, and he was never the same Bittle after that.
After a good first half of the season and with an added changeup to his arsenal, game one Saturday was big for the junior righty as he had one of his best outings against a talented lineup of hitters, relieving Lance Lynn and striking out nine of the 18 batters he faced.
Top-notch stuff from a pitcher the Rebels need to get where they want to go this season.
Jeremy Travis. Many thought there were too many good outfielders on this team to keep everybody happy. This is why you have depth. Travis comes in for a struggling Jordan Henry, and in game one goes 3-for-4 with 3 RBI. In game two Henry comes in and gets a pinch hit late. Maybe a boost the sophomore needed.
Again, good stuff for a team seemingly finding itself now with four straight wins.
Drew Pomeranz. There was a press box conversation as the innings rolled by that went something like this. "Has there potentially been a better left-handed pitcher at Ole Miss in years than this freshman?"
The answer was hard for anybody to come up with off the top of our collective heads. Let's just say that if we see more of what we saw from the game two starter in the weeks and years ahead, he will move to the top of that list.
Offense. The Rebels used the long ball. They played small ball. They bunted three straight times in game one to take a lead and let Bittle hold it. They mixed things up and kept Vandy off balance.
And they played good defense. They were charged with two errors in game one, no miscues in game two. Not perfect but good nonetheless.
Brett Basham. His accurate arm threw two Vandy runners out at second in game one and in game two the Commodores didn't run on him. Of course with Pomeranz doing his thing and then Justin Cryer finishing it off, there wasn't much of a chance for them to.
The Rebels showed some mettle early, too. It wasn't much past 1 p.m. that they were down 2-0 in the top of the first inning of game one with "The Bear" on the mound, who would later admit he didn't have his stuff at all. A lesser team, a lesser veteran, might have been shaken with two blasts from two future pros like Dominic de la Osa and Pedro Alvarez.
But Lynn got out of it with no more damage and kept things together as best he could until Bittle came in to relieve him and the Rebel offense could do its long-ball, small-ball thing.
Game one set the tone for game two. Pomeranz set the pace in game two. Now what?
How about an SEC sweep for the first time since winning three from Tennessee at home the last weekend in April 2006? That would be a nice way to top off a successful weekend, huh.
Better yet, the Rebels could be in a tie for first overall in the whole SEC race depending on what happens in a couple of other situations Sunday.
So Sunday is big. Saturday was big, and the Rebels came through with flying colors against a formidable foe in Vandy.
We saw what we've been hoping to see from this Rebel team in two games Saturday. Hopefully it's a sign of things to come.
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