Bittle's Best

Scott Bittle didn't receive the applause of the fans after coming out of Sunday's 6-1 Ole Miss win against top-ranked Georgia during an inning. He strolled off the mound after getting a ground out and a couple of strikeouts in the top of the seventh, and that was that.

His teammates met him in front of the dugout, just as they had the previous six innings. But it was obvious he might be done on this day. And what a job he had done.

He'd thrown 106 pitches in the game, with three hits and a run in the first but only two hits and no runs the six innings after that. He struck out 11 in one of the nation's best lineups. Bulldog hitters left Oxford bewildered.

"He throws that – I don't know what it is," said Bryce Massanari, who had three home runs in the Saturday game, a 10-8 UM victory, but quietly went 0-for-4 Sunday, three of the at-bats coming against Bittle.

What it's referred to around these parts is "The Thing."

More from Massanari.

"It's a cutter or a slider. It has such a late break on it you can't pick it up. It's probably the best pitch I've seen in college."

Pretty high-quality assessment right there from a senior catcher who has been around for a while and seen a lot of really good pitchers.

After Bittle left Sunday's game, he strolled toward the Rebel bullpen as the fans in the new box seats past third base stood and cheered. Not long afterward, Bittle headed back from the pen to the dugout and everybody caught sight of him. The entire assemblage stood and showered him with rousing appreciation.

It was quite a different scene than just two years ago. Most in this stadium on this day, if they were being honest, would never have believed things would have gone so well or gotten to this point, given how things were back then. For Scott Bittle, that is.

No, two years ago, there were some forgettable moments. Last year things were much better. This year even better than that.

Bittle had just gone seven complete and allowed a powerful hitting Georgia team only five hits and just a run, walking one, along with those 11 strikeouts.

Ole Miss fans know what they're seeing now. They're seeing a pitcher that arguably is the best to ever pitch for the Red and Blue.

Strong statement, I know. But think about it for a moment before you decide he isn't. If he's not the best, has there been one more effective?

Bittle quietly goes about his business and pretty much lets his pitching do the talking. And when he pitches, nobody thinks the Rebels will lose. Certainly not his own teammates. Maybe not even the opposition, given some of the Georgia comments.

"He's not going to say much," said Rebel teammate Logan Power, also a member of the not-so-vocal department. "It's great to have him on Sunday when we really need to win."

And the 11th-ranked Rebels, fighting for a conference crown and a Regional hosting berth, really needed a win Sunday.

"It was unbelievable for him to go out there and do that and keep that lineup down," Power said.

That was simply a choice of words by Power. Certainly he believes Bittle can do that with any team at any time.

However, finding a more potent lineup than the Bulldogs is difficult. Bittle just went out there and did again what Bittle does.

"They've definitely got some good sticks in that lineup," the right-hander said of Georgia. "They've got a lot of hitters who are having great years. Really you can't change your focus, though."

So does he also think he's going to win every time out? Does he really think that? Obviously most competitors that make it to this level feel that way.

"Hey I'm just out here trying to get people out," Bittle said. "I don't think too much."

What he does do is pitch and pitch well, and on a ballclub that appears to have what it takes to go far.

"It's just a really special team," Bittle said.

With a really special Sunday starter.


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