Looking Back

There was some familiarity this weekend to last weekend. Ole Miss' three games against Louisville weren't all that different from the three at Tulane.

The main difference, obviously, was that Ole Miss won two games in New Orleans but only one against the Cardinals. The Rebels are now 12-4 as Arkansas-Pine Bluff comes to town for a Tuesday game at 6:30 p.m.

It was a solid team Dan McDonnell brought down to Oxford. It appears the defending Big East champions could easily hold their own against Southeastern Conference competition. Making the eight-team field in Hoover wouldn't be in much doubt for that Cardinal ballclub.

The hits kept on coming against Ole Miss the past two Sundays. It's a little too early to tell if it's back to the drawing board for a Sunday starter again for Mike Bianco and staff.

Last Sunday after Trent Rothlin started and Rebel pitching ultimately gave up 20 hits to the Green Wave in the finale, a 12-4 UM loss, Bianco said he wasn't ready to name a Sunday starter for the Louisville series at that time. He basically said the same Sunday after Matt Tracy had a rough outing vs. Louisville.

Tracy allowed six earned runs on 10 hits with a walk but not a strikeout in four and two-thirds innings.

Tracy had been quite the effective performer in two starts and four appearances this season. His 1.08 ERA in 16.2 innings and his 19 strikeouts to seven walks looked worthy of a Sunday start. And even with his not so stellar showing against the Cardinals, he may still be called on at Kentucky this Sunday.

Tracy knew the Rebels' 10-8 loss wasn't his best day.

"I was basically leaving everything up and right down the middle of the plate," said the junior left-hander. "You can't do that against a good team like Louisville."

The Cards indeed made him pay. But he wasn't the only one.

Former Sunday starter Rothlin, who got the first three weekend finale starts this season, didn't slow the Louisville sluggers down either, only making it two/thirds of an inning and allowing three earned runs on three hits with a walk and no strikeouts.

Rebel pitchers didn't have a strikeout until the sixth inning, and that was after Matt Crouse came in. The sophomore left-hander had three Ks, a walk and two hits as he finally got to Louisville's offense a bit.

If there is a new starter on a Sunday anytime soon, Crouse could be next in line if the coaches decide to go in another direction. Tracy has been so effective prior that it's difficult to pull him from the new role just yet. But that's one of the areas the staff will have to evaluate this week to see if they are getting what they need.

A Winning Visit

Dan McDonnell, the former UM assistant coach, said the return to Oxford was enjoyable for him and his family. Of course, winning always helps.

"It was great to be back," he said. "Obviously my job is being the Louisville baseball coach, so at the end of the day, it's about playing good baseball and making sure our team gets better. Aside from that, it was a special weekend for us. We saw a lot of people, and a lot of people reached out to us."

McDonnell and his wife, Julie, have two sons – Jake 11 and Justin 8. Justin was born during their time in Oxford when Dan was the assistant coach for six seasons from 2001 through 2006.

"To this day, when we're playing basketball or any other sport and he runs out of the tunnel or out of the garage, I say 'Justin McDonnell from Oxford, Mississippi.' And he'll hear that for the rest of his life. Justin showed up at one of my camps with his Ole Miss jersey on, and he even joked about wearing it this weekend.

"Other than when they're playing Louisville, we'll always root for Ole Miss in every sport. This will always be a part of what we call home, and an important part of our past."

And he believes the Rebels are in for another good season.

"Ole Miss is a very tough team with obviously some star power with guys like Pomeranz and Smith and Ferguson. This was a great challenge for our kids."

A Hiccup for Yarb

It was bound to happen at some point. It normally does for all players, and it did this weekend for freshman infielder Alex Yarbrough.

The Allen, Texas, product came into the weekend with a team-leading .432 batting average. After a 1-for-13 weekend against the Cards, that average plummeted to .340.

Yarbrough's fast start wasn't a fluke, and this weekend will likely not become a trend. But bumps in the road during a long baseball season happen, and it did for the talented freshman infielder against Louisville pitching.

Weekend Notes

The win over the Cardinals on Saturday is Louisville's only setback of the season in 15 games.

Left-hander Drew Pomeranz struck out 12 batters and allowed one run on three hits in 6.1 innings of work Friday. The 12 strikeouts single-handedly topped the most strikeouts in a game by the Louisville offense this season by 4. Louisville struck out 8 times against Michigan.

Pomeranz and RHP Eric Callender combined for 17 strikeouts on the night. For the weekend, the Rebel pitching staff struck out 32 batters.

The 12 strikeouts by Pomeranz on Friday moved him to 245 strikeouts for his career, tied for fifth all-time at Ole Miss with Brett Bukvich. Pomeranz needs 13 strikeouts to move into fourth place ahead of Scott Bittle (257 strikeouts).

Catcher Taylor Hightower led the Rebels at the plate on the week in five games, hitting .438 and going 7-for-16 with three runs scored and three RBI.

Tim Ferguson and Matt Smith also hit well for the Rebels, hitting three of the Rebels' four home runs on the week.

Ole Miss has now hit 18 home runs on the year with eight different players having hit home runs.

In the field, the Rebels have turned 20 double plays this season, seven of them coming this past week.

(Thanks to UM athletics media relations' Bill Bunting for the notes in this section.)

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