Friday at Samford with the Rebels

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – It was day three, as usual, for the Ole Miss baseball team at the SEC Tournament. For the third straight year the Rebels didn't play a game but instead practiced on the Samford University baseball field.

Three of the Bianco boys – there are four total and a daughter, too - were there. Yesterday was the youngest boy's seventh birthday. Sam was born the week between Hoover and the Rebels' 2001 NCAA Regional appearance in New Orleans in Coach Mike Bianco's first season.

"Happens around this time every year," a smiling and relaxed Bianco said prior to the Rebels' workout earlier today.

So does this same scenario. The Rebels have become accustomed to having a day off from playing on the Friday of the tourney, and they like it.

"It's our usual thing now, and it really helps," Cody Satterwhite, the Rebels' starting pitcher Saturday at 10 a.m., said. "Win the first two games and take a relaxed day off and head to Saturday with a lot of confidence. We don't know who we'll play and we really don't care. Just enjoy the day and spend some time with your family since you don't get to see them too much."

Two years ago after the off day, the Rebels won the tournament by beating Alabama on Saturday and Vanderbilt on Sunday, Last year the Commodores beat the Rebels twice on Saturday to eliminate Ole Miss before championship Sunday.

Satterwhite said the Rebels are motivated to do what they did two years ago and also by what they didn't accomplish last year.

"We want to win the first one and not have to play two (on Saturday)," Satterwhite said. "Save that bullpen for the championship game."

Satterwhite will certainly have a big say in that.

"Everybody is confident, and we're playing like we should," said the junior righty. "Our offense is battling and not giving in. When they (opponent) score, we come back and score. Everybody's ready to play. Every win is critical."


Fuller Smith said the Rebel offense is quite the force when Matt Smith and Michael Guerrero are doing what they've done lately. Both have had key roles in Ole Miss' success here, especially with their two big blasts against Kentucky.

"When Matt and Guerrero are on, it just makes things so much better for guys like (Cody) Overbeck, because we've got guys protecting him," said Fuller. "It creates more offense for us."

It certainly did against the Wildcats. Ole Miss answered every call.

Having Guerrero back to 100 percent and over his foot injury has been a huge boost for a team that needed one.

"Our main focus now is to win this tournament," Guerrero said. "To win this tournament has always been one of our goals."

Guerrero admitted he had seen himself on ESPN's top 10 plays of the day from Thursday, although his walkoff actually was early, early today.

"That was pretty awesome. I had to get someone to Tivo it for me," he said.

An ESPN moment and a You Tube star now, Guerrero said he hadn't seen the latter yet.

"What's it under?" he asked. "I'll have to watch that one, too."

There will definitely be a lot of watching and rewatching of that one and more by Ole Miss fans - as special a moment as there's been all season for this year's ballclub.


Fuller Smith, a Birmingham area/Vestavia Hills native who is having the team over to eat at his house tonight, says in his opinion it isn't difficult to size up teammate Matt Smith.

"I've played with a few good players in my time," Fuller said. "He's certainly one of them. He's just an old country boy from Georgia with some pop."

Matt, a redshirt freshman, readily admitted he had struggled at times this season.

"I was having a hard time figuring it all out," he said. "The biggest thing was I was trying to do too much. I cut down on my swing a little. This is all kinda new, and I've had to learn even more about me as a player."

Looks like he's putting what he's learned to good use. And because of that and more, the Rebels are playing better baseball at just the right time.

"We knew we weren't playing our best," Matt said of the regular season. "At times I think we put too much pressure on ourselves."

Not anymore.

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