Fall Ball Begins

Fall baseball got underway Sunday afternoon, and the Rebels went through four innings of intrasquad.

The scrimmage was shortened a bit because some players are still recovering from the flu that hit the team earlier this month, as well as a case of mono and some bumps and bruises.

"Because of some injuries and sickness we were limited on the mound," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. "We only had four guys throw today. That's why we also practiced some (after a four-inning scrimmage)."

Out among pitchers were JUCO sophomore LHP Matt Crouse (had knee scope surgery and will be out for another couple of weeks), JUCO junior RHP Trent Rothlin (mono), and JUCO sophomore LHP Jon Andy Scott (out for the school year with Tommy John surgery).

"We've battled it." Bianco said of the flu. "There's been as many as 12-15 out with it. Some are still out. We're feeling that limited roster size right now, and it will be nice to get a few more guys back."

Sophomore catcher Taylor Hightower was out Sunday with a muscle pull but should be back in action Monday.

"The hitters swung it good today. The Snyder twins each hit a home run as did Matt Smith," Bianco said. "(Tim) Ferguson got a couple of hits. It was a good day at the plate."

Kevin Mort, the senior shortstop, picked up right where he left off last season, going 2-for-3 with a single and a double and two runs scored. Smith, moving from first base to right field, was 1-for-3 with a three-run home run over the center field wall.

Matt Snyder, the Rebels' probable first baseman, was 1-for-1 and had an RBI with his blast over the wall in right center. His twin brother, Mike, playing third base, was 1-for-1 and launched one over the center field wall with a man on base.

Also getting hits in the four innings were freshman outfielder Zach Lowery (1-1, double, RBI), senior outfielder Taylor Hashman (1-2, single, RBI), JUCO junior catcher Miles Hamblin (1-1, single, 2 RBI), and JUCO sophomore catcher Micah Reaves (1-1, double).

On the mound, freshman LHP Jordan Cooper faced nine batters in two innings and allowed two runs on two hits with a walk, a strikeout and a hit batter.

Freshman LHP Tanner Mathis faced 10 batters in two innings, allowing two runs on three hits with a walk and two strikeouts.

Freshman RHP Brooks Oursler faced nine batters in two innings with an earned run on one hit with three walks and a strikeout.

Sophomore LHP Kyle Barbeck went one and two-thirds innings, facing 12 and giving up six earned runs on five hits with a walk and three Ks.

"It was a tough day for the pitchers. The hitters were locked in," Bianco said. "Only four guys went today, and everybody gave up runs. The hitters just did a good job today."

None of the returnees with a lot of innings-pitched last spring were on the mound on day one of fall ball. Junior ace Drew Pomeranz isn't pitching currently to allow his arm some time to rest and recover after a long spring season and summer pitching for gold-medal-winning Team USA.

Bianco said Matt Smith being in right field shouldn't be a problem, even though the junior suffered an arm injury while pitching season before last.

"It hasn't been a problem, and we don't think it will be a problem," Bianco said. "Ever since he had that happen, he's never had an issue with it. Never a re-occurance or a sore elbow. We've never limited his throwing ever since then, like don't take pregame infield/outfield. He's always chomping at the bit, because he wants to pitch again. He wants to throw a bullpen. That may come, but not right now. At this point, he seems to be fine."

The Rebels were able to get their scheduled Scout Day completed on Friday but with some adjustments due to weather.

"We did the Scout Day on Friday, and it turned out great," Bianco said. "We fought the weather and got it all in. We had to hit BP inside because the grass was tall (on Swayze Field) since we hadn't been able to get it cut. It had rained so much and the field was holding a lot of water. But we did everything else. We ran in the IPF, because of the high grass. We got the defense out here (for drills), and then we were able to intrasquad (for the pro scouts)."

The Rebels were scheduled to hold their first practice Saturday morning, but heavy overnight and early morning rains washed that out. Then Saturday afternoon, several junior college teams were on Swayze Field for a scheduled tournament, which was able to be held since the rains stopped and the field was prepared in time.

"(Saturday) we had that junior college tournament going here, and it's a shame we were scheduled to practice at 10 a.m. They started at 1 p.m., and it would have been nice to practice then. But they had three games, and they didn't get off the field until 8 o'clock or so.

"They (junior college baseball programs) have so many days they can play and scrimmage, and it was good for us to get them on our field for the obvious reasons. One, the coaches get to see them. Two, the convenience of it. Three, get them here on our field and in our stadium."

Fall ball continues this week and through the weekend of Nov. 7 with the Rebels intrasquading on the weekends, except home football game days.

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