Music City Series

Vanderbilt and Ole Miss, two of the most successful SEC baseball programs this decade, are two teams in 2009 still trying to find out just who they are. So now they'll get together and try to figure it out.

Ole Miss, ranked 14th and sporting a 9-3 mark, headed north to Nashville on Thursday to face the host Commodores, 10-4. The games are set for 6 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday, and 1 p.m. Sunday. But who knows if that will happen as planned?

The weather doesn't look all that cooperative. Cold, rain, and not such good baseball conditions are forecast at some point.

But the Rebels have to be getting used to that type situation by now, with some cold games, a snowout, and a rain postponement to date. The TCU weekend they got some of all three.

It used to be that weekend four was the start of the Southeastern Conference portion of the baseball season. Starting last year it's backed up a week to the third weekend of the campaign.

"It got here last year at this time, and of course everybody wants more practice time," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. "It's here and it's the same for everybody."

Bianco said his team hasn't yet played as it is capable of playing.

"We've got to play well," he said. "We've got to play some defense and we've got to swing like we're capable of swinging."

Vanderbilt has a lot of new faces. Several names that fans can remember from the last couple of Vandy teams are gone since last season. Guys like Pedro Alvarez, Alex Feinberg, Ryan Flaherty, Shea Robin, David Macias, and Dominic de la Osa were all a part of tremendous Commodore success.

Several new players or backups from those years have taken their places. Vandy head coach Tim Corbin said he hopes his team has grown up some by now.

"We've played reasonably well," Corbin said of his unranked Commodores. "We're a new team from an in-the-field standpoint. We have a lot of experienced pitchers. We've been involved in a lot of close ballgames. I've enjoyed coaching this team so far."

That doesn't mean he knows all about them, however.

"I don't know what type team we have so far," he said. "Sometimes you don't know the level of competition you've faced. But we'll keep improving with them being young and inexperienced. They've been poised to this point."

Corbin said he hopes his team is successful this weekend. But if it's not, they'll simply move on from here.

"It's important. It's not everything," he said. "Our (SEC) schedule happens to be a home series to start and a home series to end. So many teams in this conference have started not so well and then gained their stride later. LSU did it last year and Georgia has done it before. With a young team, you'd like to win to gain some confidence."

Junior LHP Mike Minor (1-0), second to UM's Jordan Henry in SEC Freshman of the Year voting in 2007, takes the hill for the Commodores Friday night.

Bianco knows Minor is a terrific pitcher.

"He's one of the best in the league, one of the best in the country," he said. "But we've got a pretty good one going ourselves."

Rebel sophomore LHP Drew Pomeranz (1-0) gets the Friday night start for the Rebels.

Bianco said he's looking forward to rolling the ball out there and seeing what happens as league play begins.

"They've got a lot of new faces. We've got a lot of new faces," he said. "We'll see how our guys handle going on the road in the SEC."


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