Guerrero: 'Win it for the fans'

HOOVER, Ala. – For the third time in four years, hundreds of Ole Miss fans will wake up this morning and travel to the SEC Tournament. It's become a ritual as they join hundreds of others already here. Michael Guerrero wants this championship for them.

"I just want to win it for the fans," said the Rebel junior outfielder who's having an MVP week here. "They've given us a lot of support. That's a big help when you have fans like that behind you."

Guerrero, with four home runs in this tourney, said he hears them almost all the time.

"When I'm running the bases I don't hear much," he said. "But afterward I hear them. I love ‘em. They're great."

There will be maybe as many as 5,000 in red and blue here today if the Sunday finals in 2005 and 2006 are measuring sticks. Some estimates for those were as high as 6,000 Ole Miss supporters.

Of course fans were in love with those two Ole Miss teams throughout the season. They've wanted to fall for this one, but it's taken a magical four days since Wednesday for that to be the case.

Now that they have, folks are lining up at the pumps this morning, filling up their vehicles (begrudgingly because of the price nowadays) for what has become a near annual tradition – the Rebs on Memorial Day Sunday in Hoover.

Sundays haven't been too kind to the Rebels this season. After blasting Minnesota 15-4 opening weekend on Sunday and making a remarkable comeback to beat Indiana State on Sunday in week two, 6-5 in 11 innings, things didn't go as well after that.

TCU won 2-1 in Fort Worth in weekend three, and MSU took a 4-0 win the following Sunday. Offensively the Rebs did little.

LSU was about to get swept in Oxford on April 13, the end of Grove Bowl weekend. But Sunday baseball jumped up and got Ole Miss again as the Tigers left with an 8-2 win that day.

The 5-2 Sunday win against Auburn was huge two weeks ago. And the 7-5 win vs. Kentucky in 11 innings, although on a Saturday still the three-game finale, was bigger than big. It got the Rebels here.

I repeat, that one in Lexington got the Rebels here. Maybe the magic of this week started that Saturday against the Wildcats.

Guerrero said early last week he had never been in as intense a situation as the one at UK that last day of the regular season. And that coming from a guy who's been around baseball all his life.

Guerrero admitted last night that in the back of his mind he feels like he's making up for lost time. He was out of action for several games over several weeks in April and May with a stress fracture in his right foot.

During that time he was one of the fans, sitting at games in the stands with family and friends, awaiting other opportunities that he hoped would come his way this season. And now he has them.

As for his plate appearances this week, Guerrero said he's seeing the ball well. Who would have guessed?

"It looks like that Gatorade cooler over there," he quipped.

The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder says this could be a special Sunday, and he knows who will be behind the team.

"It's going to be a dog fight," the Southaven High and Meridian CC product said. "We've still got something to prove. Our fans will stand behind us, and we believe we can win this thing. It's time to go out and do it."


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