Slipping By

Matt Tracy came through in his first start as an Ole Miss Rebel, and it's a good thing. The Rebels slipped past Arkansas State 3-2 on a cold, late February day in Oxford.

The junior left-hander from Des Peres, Mo., went 5.2 innings, allowing one run on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts.

"I thought I pitched pretty well today," Tracy said. "I thought my slider was pretty good, and I was able to command that. And I had my changeup. My fastball was OK, but I was able to get ahead and that was the main thing."

The Rebels were also able to take advantage of four Red Wolves errors in the contest – two by shortstop Zach Maggio, and one each by second baseman Giovanni Garcia and third baseman Taylor Clements. It was indeed a tough day for the ASU infielders.

Only one of Ole Miss' three runs was earned. The Rebels (3-1) only got four hits in the game compared to eight for the visitors from Jonesboro (2-1).

"Today was just a poor offensive day for us," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. "The whole game was about our pitching and defense, even with two errors."

Two players who started their first games of the season made those errors. Mike Snyder, back at third base where he was projected to be before an appendectomy earlier this month, sent a throw high to his brother, Matt, at first base to allow a Red Wolf runner to reach. And left fielder Taylor Hashman threw a ball in from left and missed his mark, allowing a runner to move up a base.

Other than that, it was all up to Rebel pitching as not only Tracy saw action but so did Matt Crouse, Rory McKean, and David Goforth. Crouse relieved Tracy and gave up a leadoff home run to ASU catcher Kyle DeGrace in the seventh that cut the UM lead to 3-2.

Crouse went 1.1 innings allowing just the one run on just one hit with a walk and two strikeouts. McKean came in for two/thirds of an inning after Crouse and gave up one hit in three batters faced. Goforth came in to close things out for the Rebels and went 1.1 innings with no runs, a hit, and two strikeouts.

Ole Miss led 3-0 after three complete. Leadoff man Tim Ferguson was the bright spot offensively for the Rebs with two hits and three stolen bases as well as a run scored.

"Their pitchers did a great job, but they left me a couple of balls up," Ferguson said. "I was able to take care of them. I'm a lot more patient this year, and I worked in the intrasquads on battling with two strikes. Today both my hits were with two strikes, so I feel like I've gotten a lot better at that."

"It was a game, to be honest with you, that we probably didn't deserve to win," Bianco said. "We were very fortunate they had several miscues that allowed us to score some runs."

Tracy got the win, his first at Ole Miss, and Goforth got his first save of the season. ASU starter Jacob Lee (0-1), the first of four pitchers for the visitors on the day, got the loss.

Ferguson said the Rebels weren't at the top of their game in this one.

"We kind of got caught in a trap," he said. "Tuesday night. Cold weather. We didn't really come out to play. But we came out on top, and ultimately that's all that matters."

The Rebels host Oakland University (of Michigan) this weekend. Games are set for 3 p.m. Friday, 1:30 p.m. Saturday, and noon Sunday.

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