Series Wrap

After losing 6-5 to Louisiana-Monroe Friday, Ole Miss outscored the visiting Warhawks 27-2 the next two days to take the series. Anytime you beat a Sunbelt Conference team that's practiced as much as you have and can win by a margin like that is impressive.

Certainly non-conference marks count for something at season's end, so you hope to have as many wins and as few losses in those 26 contests as you can. This early loss might have even helped the Rebels in some regards.

It likely contributed to moving Zach Miller back to third base and Matt Smith back to the outfield. With projected third base starter Mike Snyder recovering from an appendectomy, Miller seemed the obvious candidate at third for opening weekend.

Ever the team player, Miller would have moved from second to third without a whimper. But he'd made it known he wanted to stay at second. So he was there and Smith was at third – until Saturday. Smith made an error in the first inning of the Friday game, one of only three scored miscues by the Rebels all weekend.

The coaching staff did the right thing moving Miller back to third. He's the best available player there, maybe even better than Mike Snyder. We haven't seen Mike there in a game yet. Some of the plays Miller made the last two days, coupled with what we saw from him there last season, were no surprise.

Mike Snyder may be available for this weekend's series with Oakland University. The coaching staff has a decision to make on how to handle the third base situation, and they may play Snyder some and Miller some.

There were several superlatives from the weekend. One was the clean play defensively. Besides Smith's first inning of the series miscue and Taylor Hightower being called for catcher's interference that same inning, the Rebels didn't have another error until Tanner Mathis let one get past him in left field in the rain in the eighth inning of the Sunday finale.

"I'm very happy with the defense," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. "It was a very clean weekend, especially the last two days."

The Saturday-Sunday middle infield of Kevin Mort at shortstop and Alex Yarbrough at second base was a hit. The duo teamed with Matt Snyder at first base for some impressive double plays.

"Mort was terrific, and Alex in his first starts looked terrific in the field and at the plate. We were real clean there," Bianco said.

More Bianco comments from the weekend

On Saturday reliever Eric Callender (3 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits, 3 strikeouts, 1 walk): "Great, and it's better to pitch with a 12-0 lead like he did than not. But the bad thing about a 12-0 lead is you're not supposed to walk people and you're supposed to throw a lot of fast balls into the strike zone. In doing that, some guys get some free swings at you. So I'm proud of him. He came in there and threw the ball in the strike zone and did a great job for his first time out."

On the weekend of David Phillips (6-for-9, 6 RBI, 3 HRs): "You're happy when guys get off to a good start in any phase. We expect a lot out of David, a guy that's going to hit in the middle of the lineup. A tremendous weekend for him."

On Miles Hamblin at catcher Sunday, his first time there as a Rebel: "I thought he did great. As you know, I put a lot of pressure on the catcher. There's a lot asked of him. We knew he was going to catch a game this weekend. I thought he did a great job. He blocked all the balls. He got all the signals. And he closed out with a big home run at the end to extend the lead."

Some quotes from selected players

LHP Matt Tracy, who will start Tuesday vs. Arkansas State, on his 3.2 innings of relief Friday (0 runs, 2 hits, 2 strikeouts, 2 walks): "I felt pretty good. It was good to get out there on the first day and get the butterflies away. I pitched pretty well. I just tried to throw strikes and command all my pitches."

David Phillips on his weekend: "Of course I'm happy with my start. I worked hard in the offseason and it's paid off. It's just been great. I haven't changed much from last season. I just try to focus on each at-bat and separate them out, not let one affect the other and stay confident."

David Phillips on the whole team's weekend offensively (40 hits, 7 home runs, 32 runs scored): "All these guys work hard and there's a lot of power in the lineup. I think we hit more home runs this weekend than we did like the first month last year. It's been good to see; it's been awesome."

Sunday starter Trent Rothlin on his outing (6 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 2 strikeouts, 4 walks): "I need to pound the ball more, work downhill, and throw it more into the strike zone. I felt good last night and this morning. Last night I was working on a (history) paper I have due (Monday). So I didn't really think about (pitching) much last night. As it got closer to the game, I was getting kind of anxious, but nothing out of the ordinary."

Miles Hamblin, 0-for-8 his first two days, on going 2-for-5 with 2 RBI and a home run Sunday and also catching the series finale: "I didn't feel much pressure, because the whole team's been hitting. Everybody kept telling me the hits will come, and they were right. I stayed confident and didn't really get frustrated. It was nice being behind the plate. Wherever the team needs me, I'll play."

More Diamond Notes

Alex Yarbrough was just 1-for-4 Sunday but it was a biggie, a triple that scored two runs. He also scored a run in the contest.

Kevin Mort was 0-for-2 Sunday but drew three walks. He was credited with an RBI and scored a run.

Tanner Mathis and Zach Miller had stellar Sundays at the plate. Both were 3-for-3. One of Miller's hits was a double, and he also had 2 RBI and scored 2 runs. Mathis had 2 RBI and scored a run.

The middle infield of Mort at short, Yarbrough at second, and also Matt Snyder at first accounted for three double plays the last two games of the series.

Ole Miss left 10 on base Saturday and 10 again on Sunday after stranding seven Friday. ULM left 6 on Sunday, 4 Saturday, and 11 Friday.

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