Flushing It - Again

Brett Huber, so effective in taking over the closer role from injured Jake Morgan this season with 10 saves, appeared to be a bit shaken Thursday night when things didn't work out.

Auburn pinch-hitter Kevin Patterson saw to that. Patterson's three-run blast into the Oxford night in the eighth wasn't necessarily a surprise. If any team could do that this season, it's Auburn.

"No comment," was all the redshirt freshman right-hander could muster when asked if Auburn's hitters were as good as advertised. He simply couldn't speak to that particular subject.

Huber did say this concerning an open base. The Rebels could have walked Patterson, a .347 hitter with 14 home runs coming in, to get to another more than adequate hitter, Casey McElroy, at .335 with six round-trippers.

"I'd rather not," said Huber of the free pass for Patterson. "I have all the confidence in the world. I'd rather go after him than put him on. I know he's a big guy with a lot of home runs. But when you're a closer, you've got to believe you can beat any guy out there. I'm glad I went after him. He just capitalized on it."

It wasn't the only time at a recent home game the Rebels had been bitten by a decision to walk a batter or not in a key situation. In the Friday night loss to Arkansas with the Rebels up 2-1, they chose to walk Zack Cox to get to Brett Eibner. One swing of the bat gave the Hogs a lead they never relinquished.

That night Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said:

"You've got a guy hitting about 120 points higher than the other guy," he said of walking Cox (.443) to get to Eibner (.325). "That was a guy (Cox) that looked pretty locked in his first three at-bats. He had barreled up three balls. With the statistics for Cox and the way he's been swinging the bat, and certainly what he did tonight, (it was the right decision)."

Bianco said it's all just a part of the game.

"You gotta tip your hat," he said of Patterson's shot in the Tigers' 5-3 win in the series' first game. "They're guy, (with runners on) second and third with two outs gets a 1-0 slider. I don't think it was that bad a pitch. I'm sure he would like to have made it a little bit better. He got a great swing off and hit it very well."

The Rebels came back and won the Saturday game with Arkansas 3-2 behind Aaron Barrett. They're hoping for more of the same tonight.

"It was one bad pitch," Huber said, "but I pitched good the next inning. I gotta flush it. Players have to deal with that. It's a big part of baseball, and I'll be ready to go (tonight)."

Drew Pomeranz

Prior to Huber's entrance into the game, with two aboard and no outs in the top of the eighth, Drew Pomeranz had pitched effectively. The Rebel left-hander gave up four runs on eight hits to the offensive juggernaut that is Auburn this season. He only walked two, and free passes had been a problem for him recently. And, with six strikeouts in this game, he tied the UM career strikeout mark at 332, matching Lance Lynn's record.

"It's always awesome to approach records and stuff," said the third-year junior. "I didn't realize it. I didn't know how many I had or how many I needed. It's good to tie a guy like Lance Lynn with strikeouts, because he was very successful here."

Chances are quite good that Pomeranz will have the mark all his own sometime during next Wednesday's SEC Tournament opener in Hoover, Ala.

Bianco thought Pomeranz was better than recently but still not as good as he's been before.

"I thought he was terrific, much better than he's been the last few weeks. But still not vintage Pomeranz by any means, just because I don't think all three pitches were ever really working at one time. His breaking ball was very sporadic. His fast ball was good but wasn't as overpowering as it's been. And really we didn't throw but a couple of changeups tonight.

"But I thought he competed well and pitched well," Bianco continued, "especially against a very good offense."

Matt Snyder

A couple of different changes were made in the lineup Thursday night. Matt Snyder returned for the first time in two weeks. Miles Hamblin was behind the plate instead of Taylor Hightower. Mike Snyder was at first base, where Hamblin had been, until the late innings when Matt Smith came in from right field and Mike Snyder headed to the dugout. That moved Taylor Hashman from left field to right, and Tanner Mathis was brought in to play left.

"Matt Snyder felt good and swung the bat well," Bianco said. "We're just going to try to minimize his swings. Once he's back into the mix, we'll probably monitor his batting practice and not take as many cuts.

"Hamblin did a good job, was terrific back there," Bianco continued. "He got the signals, and that's hard when you're not used to getting the signals and relaying them to the pitcher. I was proud of him."

Auburn put a lot of space between itself and the two others in the hunt for the SEC West. The Tigers are now 18-10. After Vanderbilt beat Arkansas Thursday night, the Razorbacks are tied for second with Ole Miss at 16-12.

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