For starting pitcher Aaron Barrett, it was just what he needed to flush last season and get off on the right foot in 2010. He even got the game shirt as awarded by the UM coaches.
"It's nice to get the shirt," said the senior right-hander, who went six innings allowing basically nothing – no runs, two hits, one walk with seven strikeouts.
But this was about much more than the shirt.
"This means a lot," said Barrett, having went from weekend starter early last season to a limited role with less meaningful innings as the season moved on. "This will definitely help my confidence. I don't try to look at last year that much. Each spring intrasquad so far I've been doing really well focusing on this pitch and the next pitch. The only thing I can control is this pitch. Confidence-wise I'm just going to keep going with each start."
Barrett's charge became a bit more important after the Rebels dropped the season opener Friday 6-5.
"I was definitely anxious," he said going into today's contest. "As a team we've been anxious to get this season underway. We've been ready to play for a while. Last night was a tough loss, but at the same time everybody was like OK we've got to go to work today. And look at what happened."
Ole Miss racked up 16 hits in the contest and was efficient at the plate, to say the least. Barrett appreciated the tremendous run support he got from his offense.
"I didn't think we'd put up 14 runs, but at the same time I know we have a great offense," he said. "Guys have been swinging the bat really well, and they gave me a chance to rest on the bench for a little while. I just went out there and continued to attack the zone."
A three-run second inning was highlighted by an RBI double from Zach Miller and a two-run home run shot by David Phillips.
"It's been nice to have success," said Phillips, 4-for-6 with two home runs and four RBI so far on the weekend. "Everybody picked it up, and after that three-run inning (in the second), there was no stopping us. It was a real good day for everybody."
Ole Miss added six runs in the third and three more in the fourth. Back to back home runs from Matt Smith (a two run blast to right, scoring Tim Ferguson who had doubled) and Matt Snyder (a solo shot to center) highlighted the third inning.
In the fourth the hits kept on coming as Snyder led off with a double, followed by a double from Phillips, and singles by Alex Yarbrough (his first collegiate hit), Taylor Hightower, and Ferguson.
Snyder was 3-for-5 on the day with an RBI, and Hightower was 3-for-5 with an RBI.
"Offensively, I like this club. I've said that from the outset," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. "I think we can hit for power. We're going to be able to score runs, and we're going to be able to do it throughout the lineup. I think you saw some of that today. We had a great day and were able to put a couple of big innings together."
The Rebels have five home runs in two games. The team had only 56 round-trippers in 64 games last season. Phillips said that isn't a surprise to him.
"Everybody in our lineup can potentially hit a home run," the senior outfielder said. "It's been real nice so far, definitely."
Ole Miss added a couple of runs in the eighth to round out the scoring.
Junior righty Eric Callender, from Meridian Community College, saw his first Division I action in relief of Barrett. He pitched the final three innings and picked up a save, with no runs on two hits, three strikeouts and a walk.
"I'm proud of him," Bianco said of Callender. "He came in threw the ball in the strike zone, walked only one guy, and did a great job for his first time out."
ULM used five pitchers in the game with starter Josh Miller getting the loss.
Barrett said he isn't where he wants to be, but he's trying to make everything count.
"The first inning I had a little adrenaline going," he said. "I've still got to work a little bit better on first-pitch strikes. As the game went on, I felt more confident, just trying to go after hitters. With the offense today, and with the defense behind me making double plays, it makes pitching that much easier."
"Aaron really worked in the offseason on his changeup, but today the fastball and slider were so good that he didn't need the changeup," Bianco said. "He was just in the zone all day long and really kept them off-balance. When you're throwing the ball at 92 miles per hour with a low-80s slider and mixing them up like he did today, it makes it very difficult on the opposing team."
Ole Miss and Louisiana-Monroe wrap up their three-game series at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Junior RHP Trent Rothlin gets his first start as a Rebel, while senior RHP Corey Brown will get the nod for the Warhawks.
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