Ace In The Hole

HOOVER, Ala. – The starts Drew Pomeranz has left in an Ole Miss uniform are getting fewer and fewer. But Wednesday afternoon the junior left-hander proved yet again when he's on the mound, his team has a great shot to win the game.

Ole Miss beat South Carolina 3-0 to advance to Thursday's 4:30 p.m. start against Alabama, which beat Auburn in an earlier game. The Rebels were efficient enough offensively, errorless defensively, and Brett Huber closed it out the final two frames.

But this one started and ended with Pomeranz, the Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year.

"You saw why Pomeranz is considered one of the top guys in the country," said South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner after his team fell to 43-14 this season. "He doesn't give you a whole lot. We got a few hits, but we just couldn't put anything together."

Pomeranz has been listed as high as the No. 2 overall pick in the upcoming draft which begins June 7. It's been no secret for years how good he is. Against a talented lineup of USC hitters, he proved it all over again.

The 6-foot-5, 231-pounder threw 108 pitches, went seven complete innings, allowing no runs on six hits with seven strikeouts and one walk. In the process, he became the alltime strikeout leader for Ole Miss with 339, breaking a tie at 332 he held since last weekend with Lance Lynn, who played at Ole Miss from 2006-08.

"You can see again why we're so happy to have Drew Pomeranz on our team," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco after his team improved to 37-20 on the year. "Another tremendous effort against one of the best teams in the country. I thought he had all his stuff."

Pomeranz said he felt good out there, and that much was obvious.

Drew Pomeranz

"I'd been struggling with my rhythm, and I've been like a tick off the past couple of starts," he said. "But I felt really good out there with all my pitches. It was like I could throw it in there at will. I had one walk, but I was around the plate more than I have been lately."

Jackie Bradley, Jr., of USC said Pomeranz was simply on.

"He was locating his fastball very well and his offspeeds very well," said Bradley with two hits on the day. "He could throw any pitch at any count. He was just real solid today."

"Drew's thrown 14 shutout innings against South Carolina this season (counting the seven-inning, two-hit, 10 strikeout, four walk performance in a 5-0 USC win in Columbia in April.)," Bianco said.

Brett Huber relieved Pomeranz after seven innings and went the rest of the way with the Rebs up 3-0. The 6-2, 209-pound redshirt freshman righty only allowed one hit and no runs with a strikeout and a walk.

"Huber out of the bullpen did a nice job as well," Tanner said.

Bianco agreed.

"I thought Brett Huber did a great job to close it down the last two innings," he said. "One of the things I'm very fortunate is that you have a lot of trust in Drew and where he is in the game and what he can do. We spoke after the seventh and he said he was done, that he was getting tired. Brett can do the two-inning thing. He's not just a one-inning guy. Immediately we started to get him warmed up. When Drew walked off the field and said that, of course we went to Hube right away."

Tanner said he was pleased his six pitchers on the day held the Rebels to just three runs on nine hits and just three walks.

"From a positive standpoint, our pitching staff did a pretty good job today and gave us a chance to win the game, only allowing three runs."

A chance to win, but it wasn't going to happen. Not with Pomeranz, then Huber, taking care of business for the Rebels.

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