The Headliners

Oakland actually didn't play too badly Friday for a team that's had two practices since November – both of them coming in Oxford this week.

The Grizzlies got outside for the first time Wednesday at Swayze Field. Finding any place without snow in their home area back in Michigan is impossible this time of year.

They do have some appreciative and supportive fans here this weekend. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 to 70 are either on the player pass list or have bought tickets at the windows. That's pretty impressive for a team from so far away.

Mike Carson's solo homer into the left field terrace Friday was his team's only run in a 9-1 loss to Ole Miss. The Grizzlies only made three errors in eight innings when the Rebels were at bat. Again, not too shabby for a team that's just getting used to the great outdoors again and was playing its first game of the season.

But Friday was mostly about Drew Pomeranz and Matt Snyder. Those two Rebels were the headliners as their team, with no errors on the day, improved to 4-1 on the young season.

Pomeranz, less than himself in the season opener and admitted such, was much more like the potential future major leaguer we've come to know. There were some scouts there to see him Friday, too. In the top of the first inning, I counted 19 of them with radar guns and note pads behind home plate in the stands.

They also might have been impressed with young Snyder. He had a couple of long blasts to the right field terrace area, one that would likely have landed in the first tennis court past the right field foul pole, if that court wasn't gone and new seating in place for students.

It was his double to left later that also brought a smile to Coach Mike Bianco's face. He said they'd been working with Snyder to hit to all fields, and it appears progress is being made.

Snyder said he hopes for more of these type games as his second year with the program continues.

"I've been pretty aggressive lately," said Snyder, who leads the Rebels with three home runs, along with David Phillips. "I've just stayed with my approach and I just keep swinging. Eventually it's paid off, obviously. Today felt great. It was a good day for me."

Bianco also liked the two innings of work put in by freshman left-hander Jordan Cooper.

"Terrific," he said after Cooper relieved Pomeranz to start the eighth and finished the contest with three strikeouts in six batters, not giving up a hit nor a walk. "To run out there your first time, regardless of the score, regardless of the situation, it's not the easiest thing in the world. But he made it look pretty easy today.

"He commanded the zone and threw some breaking balls in there as well. He had a good fast ball. He was upper 80s today. I'm proud of him."

But it was those first seven innings for Pomeranz with 15 strikeouts, no walks and just four hits and the one lone run that was on the minds of most.

"He was really sharp," Bianco said. "I realize they (Grizzlies) haven't been outside. But I don't know that it would have mattered who we were playing. If we'd have been playing the Yankees today, they'd have had a lot of trouble."

Now the focus turns back to Aaron Barrett and his second start of the season. Last Saturday in the Rebels' 14-0 win against Louisiana-Monroe, the senior right-hander appeared to be in top form. Playing an Oakland team that hasn't had nearly the preparation time the Warhawks have should give Barrett another opportunity to gain some confidence.

Last Saturday the 6-foot-2, 209-pound Barrett allowed only two hits in six innings of work, striking out seven and walking just one.


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