Legendary Night

I realize some of you simply couldn't be here for the "legendary" pitching performance by Drew Pomeranz that sent Ole Miss to the Super Regional. But I gotta borrow a quote from another Rebel source anyway.

There's a line in John Vaught's memoirs "Rebel Coach" coined by a sportswriter after the Ole Miss-Maryland football game in 1952, won by the Rebels in major upset fashion.

I'll change it to fit this baseball masterpiece

"If you weren't at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field Monday night, then go off somewhere and give yourself a good kicking, because you missed arguably the greatest pitching performance in the history of Ole Miss baseball."

That's with all due respect to Cecil Burford, who I saw before this game as he entered the stadium, and the four other Rebel pitchers along the way who have thrown no-hitters.

Consider this, though. What the Rebel sophomore lefty did by beating Western Kentucky 4-1, after having beaten Monmouth three days earlier 8-1, was beyond mind-boggling. It was, well, downright legendary.

And that's the way Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco put it postgame.

The ninth-year Rebel head coach said he simply couldn't recall a better pitching performance on a stage like this than the one Drew put on before 8,255 who came out to witness it.

One night after one of the most devastating losses in memory.

Nobody was happier after this one than Drew's dad, Mike, a former Rebel baseball infielder who also starred on an SEC champion and NCAA tourney team back in 1977.

After the postgame press conference, Mike was on the phone, talking to Drew's older brother, Stuart, who was pitching on this same night in pro baseball for the first time in a year.

Stuart, a right-hander trying to recover from an earlier injury, is pitching for an independent team in New Jersey. He went six innings, and then talked to his dad on the phone about little brother.

Chalk this up as one memorable evening for the Pomeranz family.

"I know that was hard for Drew. I'm sure he had to be out of gas," Mike said. "I think his velocity was still pretty good (in the ninth). I'm sure at some point the adrenaline kicked back in and he kinda gutted it all the way through."

Like everyone else in the ballpark. This was as gutwrenching as you could dream up.

Winner advances; loser is done.

Up 9-3 heading into the eighth inning the previous night against this same hard-hitting, tough-out Hilltopper team, the Rebels had lost 10-9.

"I'm not sure some teams could have handled a situation like that and come back like this," said Rebel senior Logan Power, honestly and, without question, accurately.

But these Rebels did, riding the young broad shoulders of their ace, knowing what was at stake, which was the season.

"He's a hard-head," Mike Pomeranz said of Drew. "He wants to show people what he's made of."

There's no doubt what he's made of now. Not after a complete game, two hit, 16 strikeout, 119 pitch performance that left folks who watched as speechless as the loss the night before had left them.

Drew had thrown 109 pitches against Monmouth Friday night.

"I think he was more focused tonight for a longer period of time than I've ever seen him," Mike said. "He was on. And you know, sometimes when you're a little tired, your breaking stuff is a little bit better because you don't have the zip on it. I thought his breaking ball was really good tonight. You get ahead in the count, all of a sudden they gotta swing at some stuff they don't want to swing at."

He said as a parent, it never really gets easy on a night like this one.

"I don't think you ever learn how to handle it," Mike said. "It was pretty tough out there tonight. I was pretty worried we were going to have trouble scoring. That kid (WKU starter Matt Ridings) was with Drew pitch for pitch."

The Pomeranz family is a true Ole Miss baseball one. Mike's brother, Pat, an outfielder, also played for Ole Miss in the early 1980s. Stuart might have too, but he was drafted in the second round by the Cardinals out of high school and headed for the pros.

Mike said for Drew to do what he's doing here is special.

"I'm glad he came here. It's a good program. I'm glad to see him here.

"We come to these games and I'll see people I haven't seen in 20 years," Mike added, "people who remember me and watched me play back on the old field."

Certainly they'll never forget son Drew either, not after this one.


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