Regional Notebook: Baseball

As Monday's ESPN Selection Show unveiled the field of 64 for this weekend's NCAA Regionals, no player got more publicity than Drew Pomeranz.

The Rebel ace will start Friday night's game against St. John's in the Charlottesville Regional.

Pomeranz, low-key as usual, said he didn't pay that much attention.

"It's cool to see yourself up there on the TV, but we've got to go down there and play good as a team," said one of the projected first picks in the draft, which starts Monday.

There is some debate among fans about whether Pomeranz should start game one against third-seed St. John's (40-18) or be held out until Saturday, which most assume will be against top-seed Virginia (47-11). The Cavaliers open against fourth-seed Virginia Commonwealth (34-24) on Friday.

The winners play Saturday, and the losers face each other Saturday. Pomeranz is skirting any debate on the subject and says he will pitch when called upon.

"It doesn't really matter to me," he said. "I feel like we need to win the first game no matter what. I'll pitch the first game and (Aaron) Barrett beat them the second game. Either way I don't think it's going to be that big of a deal."

There might have been more consideration for swapping the pitchers if the Rebels were the one seed and they were playing a four seed. But the two-seed/three-seed game is likely to be more competitive than the one-seed/four-seed contest.

Hitting Woes

There's been a lot of discussion on the lack of consistent hitting and run production. Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said he and his staff continue to seek ways to help the situation.

"You practice these next few days and try to continue to get better," he said. "One of the things we met about (Monday) was trying to figure out why. Especially the last three or four weeks we've been getting in bad counts, not getting enough good swings off early in the count. The games we've hit well, you can determine it how you want, whether it's being aggressive or whatever. But (in other games) we find ourselves 0-1 or 0-2 or 1-2 and it's tough to be in those counts and survive offensively. I think that's one of the reasons even the midweek starters or the 30-40 inning guy, we've made it too easy on them. We haven't hit the ball well early in our offensive counts, and we'll stress that this week in batting practice and in different drills."

Inconsistent hitting has been a Reb problem

Bianco said postseason evaluations will as usual take a look at things like lack of offensive production and all areas of the program.

"Basically we've done the same thing for 10 years," he said. "But that will be something surely we will evaluate at the end of the year – why didn't this work, why didn't that work. At this point to me that's wasted energy now. We play in four days. We've got to figure out how to score some runs on Friday night."

He also took responsibility himself for the lack of productive offense and doesn't feel that because Matt Mossberg wasn't the hitting coach in the fall was particularly a problem.

"Matt was always with the hitters the last couple of years, so I don't think so. It's easy to look at Matt because we haven't hit as well. I don't necessarily think all of it falls on Matt. I think a lot of it falls on me. I think I should have been a little more involved throughout the year.

"But it's been one of those years that we've been inconsistent – on the mound, at the plate. That's why we're going on the road. Even with all the things that have happened to us since last August, we were a couple of wins away from playing here (in a home Regional)."

Red Storm Ace

They'll probably face a pretty good pitcher Friday night, too, if the Red Storm send their ace to the mound as expected.

Kyle Hansen

Kyle Hansen tossed 6.1 scoreless innings and earned the Jack Kaiser Award as the Most Outstanding Player as St. John's shutout No. 18 UConn 3-0 to defeat its third-straight ranked opponent and win its conference-record sixth BIG EAST Tournament crown. Hansen had five strikeouts and allowed just two hits to earn the win.

Hansen, a freshman standing 6-foot-7, has a 3.09 ERA and an 8-1 record this season. He has 13 starts and 16 appearances, logging 87.1 innings along the way.

Bianco said St. John's is obviously a good team that is playing well and that VCU is coming into the tourney on a high note.

"We know these are good teams. St. John's won their conference tournament, but VCU won theirs as well (Colonial Athletic association). These are teams that are playing well right now."


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