Decisions, Decisions

While Sundays have been tough for Ole Miss baseball so far this season, perhaps a new starter emerged Tuesday night in Pearl.

David Goforth certainly made a case for it. The third-year sophomore threw 70 pitches over 5.2 innings, allowing two runs on three hits with two walks and one strikeout as Ole Miss got past Mississippi State 5-3 in the annual Governor's Cup.

Goforth was certainly more impressive in his start than in most of his 11 prior appearances, all in relief, this season.

Mike Bianco wasn't ready to name a Sunday starter for the weekend against Tennessee. It is assumed, that Drew Pomeranz and Aaron Barrett will continue their Friday and Saturday starts, although I suppose there is a slight chance Bianco might move Barrett to a Sunday role to mix things up. But I doubt it. That's not normally his style.

And things have gone too well on Fridays and Saturdays this season for that to likely be the case. Neither Pomeranz nor Barrett has a loss to his credit.

Maybe equally as surprising Tuesday night was Matt Tracy, normally a starter, and his terrific ninth inning to strikeout the only three Bulldogs he faced to end it. There was a runner on second and MSU trailed by only two runs. But Tracy got a swinging strikeout and two Ks looking to end it.

It was an impressive finish for Tracy. Which begs the question, if we're talking about a possible starting spot for Goforth, are we now also talking a potential closer role for Tracy? That remains to be seen as well.

Tracy, like Goforth, is in his third year with the program. Both say whatever the team needs is where they will be happiest.

"I don't know. You'll have to ask Coach Bianco about that," said the mature, personable Goforth about whether he should be a starter now. "That would be great if it does happen. But we'll just have to wait and see."

Goforth said he still felt pretty good into the sixth inning as he neared the 70 pitches he ended up throwing.

"That's kind of what surprised me," he said. "I figured maybe my arm would start to get a little tired, or maybe the velocity would drop down a little bit. But actually I don't think the velocity dropped much, if it dropped any. And the arm felt great even after I was taken out."

Tracy said even though he only threw to three batters, a total of 15 pitches with three strikeouts, he had thrown more than that during the contest.

"I threw a lot of pitches down in the bullpen," said the junior left-hander, like Goforth, personable and mature. "So I was getting ready for a while."

And when he came in, boy was he ready.

"I was able to make pitches and keep the ball down," he said. "That's the main thing, keep it down, throw strikes, and make pitches. And you'll get outs."

Rebel pitchers, including Eric Callender and Brett Huber, had kept the Bulldogs off the scoreboard for the most part. But Tracy faced a have-to situation to keep the Rebels ahead and get a victory for the team in the bottom of the ninth.

"It's all the same no matter the situation," Tracy said if there were nerves about relieving in that situation instead of starting as he'd done four times in his previous seven appearances this season. "You've got to do the same thing when you're on the mound. It's all about making pitches, taking it pitch by pitch, and having that mindset. You have to execute each pitch no matter what the situation is. If you think like that, the situation doesn't really matter."

Old habits die hard, however. Goforth said as he watched the game unfold, even with confidence in his teammates, he wished he was in there.

"I was actually a little antsy there in the ninth, wanting to get back in there," he chuckled and said.

He's definitely going to get back in there again. Maybe as a Sunday starter. We shall see.

That goes for both Goforth and Tracy, two important keys to the UM pitching staff the rest of the way.


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