The junior right-hander from Christian Brothers High in Memphis went five innings and pitched to two batters into the sixth. When those hitters got back to back singles, Coach Mike Bianco pulled Irwin.
But his first weekend start as an Ole Miss Rebel had been a good one, certainly one that could have produced a win for his team had the Rebels been able to score more than two runs in a 3-2 loss to South Alabama.
"I just carried some confidence from the fall and spring into this game," said Irwin, who had arguably been the Rebels' best pitcher during fall ball and in preseason practices. "I felt my fast ball was there today, and I just challenged them all day with it. They got some singles here and there, enough to get two runs. But I felt real good out there."
Irwin struck out five and didn't walk any Jaguars. They got eight hits off him, but of the two runs they scored while he was out there, only one was earned. Certainly it was a solid performance that could have led to a Rebel win.
"He was tremendous," Bianco said. "I'm really proud of Phillip. He did a great job against a very good offensive team. I really like their offense. I thought he did a good job mixing up his pitches. He threw a good fast ball. The wind was blowing in, so we primarily went with the fast ball. But a good mix of pitches, and he did a good job."
Irwin said he was comfortable out there on Sunday.
"I felt like I was throwing everything in the zone," he said. "I was locating on both sides of the plate. (South Alabama) battled all day. Every batter was a challenge. I really had to work to get every out."
And when he was relieved by freshman left-hander Kyle Barbeck, Irwin said he could have gone longer if it had been needed.
"My arm felt fine," he said. "I think I still had a little bit in the tank."
The tank will be filled again come this weekend when TCU rolls into Oxford. Even with probable weekend starter Drew Pomeranz (sophomore LHP) back in the mix, there's a better than good chance we'll see Irwin again as a starter one of the three days.
"It was a good start for me," Irwin said of his five-plus innings. "I'm looking forward to building on it."
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