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Ole Miss swept a doubleheader Saturday, defeating Alabama 10-2 in Game One and 4-0 in Game Two. As a pitching staff, the Rebels allowed just one earned run and scattered a combined 12 hits with 17 strikeouts compared to just one walk, including 11 strikeouts to zero walks in the second game.

Junior left-hander Christian Trent worked a season-long 8.0 innings and then sophomore right-hander Brady Bramlett went a career-long 7.1 innings, not only pitching Ole Miss past Alabama, but putting the Rebels in a good position with the bullpen going into the series finale Sunday, where they look to complete their first weekend sweep of the season.

Bramlett and senior right-hander Scott Weathersby combined for the shutout in Game Two, the Rebels' first shutout of the season. Bramlett held Alabama to just four hits and also struck out nine batters compared to zero walks. He was one strikeout shy of becoming the first Ole Miss player since Drew Pomeranz to record three double-digit strikeout games in a season.

"I felt great tonight," Bramlett said. "My fastball was working. I was throwing a new breaking that we had been working hard on in the bullpen this week. Everything felt great. After my last couple of outings, I wanted to pound the zone and make sure everything felt good."

Bramlett had thrown a curveball and slider, but dropped the curveball in favor of just the slider this past fall. He worked on the curveball in the short work and bullpen this past week and brought it back Saturday, and it proved to be a resounding success. 

"I thought the curve ball, not that it was the difference-maker, but it helped him today where he didn't have to lead everybody off with a fast ball, and he was able to dump some curve balls in there and kind of keep them off balance," Bianco said. "Alabama is a really good fastball-hitting team. He was tremendous."

For Bramlett, it was his sixth quality start of the season, but his first since March 21 against Florida. He boasts the best ERA (2.18) and opponents' batting average (.216) among the weekend starters and the third-best among all the regular pitchers, behind only Wyatt Short and Scott Weathersby. 

His ERA is also third-best among qualified pitchers in the Southeastern Conference, while his 68 strikeouts rank sixth and his opponents' batting average ranks ninth. Just as impressive, he has allowed just 50 hits and issued just 17 walks in 62.0 innings, good for a 1.08 WHIP on the season.

"Even though we have had our struggles, it would be hard to imagine the season without him," Bianco said. "He's really kind of held it together and been maybe the surprise of all the arms. Not that we didn't we had it in him, but to go from Tuesday starter, to the dominance he has shown on Saturday for us has been a shot in the arm for us."

Six former Rebels begin the 2015 Major League Baseball on opening day rosters. Chris Coghlan, Zack Cozart and Seth Smith all started or are slated to start on opening day for their respective teams. Lance Lynn and Drew Pomeranz will begin the season in the starting rotation for their respective teams, while Aaron Barrett will play a key role in the bullpen for the Washington Nationals.

30 | Aaron Barrett | RHP | Washington Nationals

Barrett made his MLB debut on opening day last season with the Washington Nationals. And for the second straight year, he made the Nationals' opening day roster. In his rookie season, he appeared in 50 games as reliever, going 3-0 with a 2.66 ERA in 40.2 innings of work. He also made the Nationals' postseason roster. He returns to a similar late-inning relief role for the Nationals this season.

Barrett makes most most of each opportunity with Nats, writes Bill Ladson from MLB.com

8 | Chris Coghlan | OF | Chicago Cubs

The 2009 NL Rookie of the Year and a 7th-year veteran, Coghlan is in his second year with the Chicago Cubs. In his first season with the Cubs, he hit .283 with 28 doubles, five triples, nine home runs and 41 RBI, his best marks since his rookie season with the Florida Marlins. The Cubs played the St. Louis Cardinals on Opening Day, and Coghlan started in left and batted fifth, where he went 1-for-4 with a double in a 3-0 loss.

Another new skipper, but Coghlan finds familiarity in Cubs camp, writes Carrie Muskat from MLB.com

2 | Zack Cozart | SS | Cincinnati Reds

Cozart has been a fixture as the Reds' everyday shortstop for the last three years. Defensively, Cozart ranked near the top of the majors in several metrics and helped save the team some runs. At the plate, he looks to bounce back from one of the worst years of his career. He is slated to start at shortstop and bat eighth for the Reds in their season opener against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Frustration fuels Cozart's motivation for 2015, writes Mark Sheldon from MLB.com

31 | Lance Lynn | RHP | St. Louis Cardinals

Lynn won 15 or more games for the third straight season, going 15-10 with a 2.74 ERA. He also recorded 181 strikeouts compared to just 72 walks in 203.2 innings. His 15 wins were tied for 15th among major league pitchers. He was also one of just 11 pitchers with 15 wins and 180 strikeouts for the season. Lynn will begin this season as the Cardinals' No. 2 starter and he will start their home opener against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 13, the first home-opening assignment of his career.

Lynn returns to mound in impressive form, writes Andrew Simon from MLB.com

13 | Drew Pomeranz | LHP | Oakland Athletics

For the second time in his career, and the second straight season, Pomeranz made an opening day roster. After making the Athletics' opening day roster as a reliever this past season, he will begin this season as their No. 5 starter and he is slated to get his first start against the Seattle Mariners on April 10. Pomeranz posted a 2.35 ERA in 69 innings over 20 appearances (10 starts) last season, but he missed more than two months due to injury.

A's name Pomeranz as fifth starter; Chavez to bullpen, writes Alex Espinoza for MLB.com

7 | Seth Smith | OF | Seattle Mariners

The most veteran member of the Ole Miss contingent in the major leagues, Smith is in his eighth major league season. It's his first season as a member of the Mariners, his fourth different major league team, after being traded rom the San Diego Padres during the offseason. He's coming off of one his better offensive seasons, hitting at a .266 clip with 31 doubles, five triples, 12 home runs and 48 RBI. He is slated to start in right field and bat second for the Mariners in their season opener against the Los Angeles Angels.

Smith brings quiet approach to first Mariners camp, writes Greg Johns from MLB.com

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This is the fourth installment of Observations from the Best Seat in the House. The idea of this weekly feature will be to bring you all some of our observations from the previous week in Ole Miss Sports. This week was a combined effort with Metz Camfield. Let's get into it:

1. The Ole Miss football team was on a bye week, but the volleyball and soccer teams went a combined 5-1 on the weekend, as both of those teams wrapped up nonconference play.

2. As much fun as it is covering Ole Miss home and away games, and they are, it's also fun to have a Saturday to watch games from 11 a.m. - and thanks to the late-game dramatics between Oregon and Washington State - until late into the night. That game, along with Mississippi State-LSU and Florida State-Clemson were the highlights for me, but it was an overall great day of football.

3. After moving up four spots the previous week, Ole Miss remained No. 10 in the latest Associated Press poll, one of six SEC West teams ranked in the top 17. Think about that, approximately one of every three teams in the top 17 are from the same division of the SEC. That's insane.

4. Among those six SEC West teams is Mississippi State, which entered the top 25 at No. 14 after its road win over LSU. Its inclusion marks the first time since the final poll of 1999 that both Mississippi schools are ranked in the Associated Press top 25. 

5. Oct. 4 is shaping up to be a potentially huge day in Mississippi with No. 10 Ole Miss hosting No. 3 Alabama and No. 14 Mississippi State hosting No. 6 Texas A&M. Standing in the way are Memphis (at Ole Miss) and Arkansas (vs. Texas A&M in Dallas).

6. When asked what he wanted to get out of the bye week, head coach Hugh Freeze said he wanted to build depth and work on two-minute, third-down and red-zone offense. Those are some areas to watch in the Rebels' matchup with Memphis on Saturday.

7. Speaking of Memphis, the Tigers are 2-1 to start the season for the first time since 2004. That was also the last time Memphis defeated Ole Miss. Don't forget, earlier this season, Memphis put a scare into then-No. 11 UCLA in Los Angeles before falling short 42-35.

8. Much has been said and written about Bo Wallace's start to the 2014 season. Here's a nice story on Wallace from Chase Parham of Rebel Grove/Rivals.com earlier this week. Check it out.

9. Following the program's first College World Series appearance since 1972 and a top-four national finish, Ole Miss baseball head coach Mike Bianco's contract was extended to run through the 2018 season. Well-deserved for the all-time winningest coach in Ole Miss history.

10. The new ball that will be used in college baseball this season, which features lowered seams, is definitely going to make a difference. While it doesn't seem to come off the bat any hotter, it does carry further. In talking with coaches and players after Saturday's scrimmage, there were a few balls hit Friday and Saturday that would have been fly ball outs last year. This will certainly be a topic again as we get closer to the season, but this is a good thing for college baseball.

11. Former Rebels Aaron Barrett (Washington Nationals) and Lance Lynn (St. Louis) have clinched berths in the postseason, with Barrett and the Nationals having already clinched the NL East Division. Tip of the hat to them.

12. Sticking with the theme of former Rebels in the big leagues, how about a shout out to Chris Coghlan of the Chicago Cubs and Drew Pomeranz of the Oakland A's? Coghlan went 4-4 with two home runs and four RBIs Saturday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, his second home run, a two-run shot in the eighth inning, proved to be the game-winner. Pomeranz, meanwhile, finished with a strong line against the Philadelphia Phillies in a start, going 5.0 innings, with one hit, zero runs, zero earned runs, two walks and six strikeouts.

13. Amory, Mississippi, native Addie Forbus scored in the first minute, and the Ole Miss defense made it stand up, as the Rebels defeated Mississippi State 1-0 to retain possession of the Magnolia Cup. It marked the Rebels' first win in Starkville since 2009. Congrats to Coach Matt Mott and the girls.

14. With a 4-0 weekend, the Ole Miss volleyball team remained undefeated at 14-0, matching last year's win total ahead of the start of SEC play. The Rebels open SEC play with matches at South Carolina and Florida, which will likely serve as a measuring stick for the team after being pushed to five sets just once in the nonconference.

15. The Ole Miss athletics department will be honoring the life and legacy of former Ole Miss football player Chucky Mullins this weekend. He will be inducted posthumously into the M-Club Hall of Fame and Ole Miss will rename Coliseum Drive "Chucky Mullins Drive." For more on the celebration of Chucky Mullins, click here.

16. In case you missed it, here's Episode 4 of The Season: Ole Miss Football, which includes a touching tribute to the late Stan Sandroni.

Picked to finish sixth in the SEC Western Division, junior right-hander Chris Ellis knew it was possible to advance to the College World Series and be in position to play for a national championship during intersaquad scrimmages early in the year.

Ellis said they didn't know if they were struggling to pitch, or they could hit really well, and it turned out they could hit really well, so they figured out pretty early in the season they were going to be a special team.

It turned out they could pitch it pretty well too.

The pitching staff holds a 2.72 ERA, which is fourth-best among College World Series teams and 16th best nationally, led by the one-two punch of junior right-hander Chris Ellis (10-2, 2.45) and sophomore left-hander Christian Trent (9-0, 2.21).

"It's definitely surprising," senior third baseman Austin Anderson said. "We knew they were good. Up until this season, Ellis was a great pitcher and he had a great stuff, but he never defined himself, and this spring, he was a third-round draft pick and he's been dominant all year. 

"We knew Trent was good and at LSU previously, but he was new, and we didn't know how good he would really be. They have made key contributions and they are one of the main reasons we're here."

Ellis and Trent are the latest in a long line of ace starting pitchers, having stepped into weekend rotation spots vacated by Bobby Wahl and Mike Mayers, who were selected in last year's MLB First-Year Player Draft. 

"At first, it was intimidating. I didn't know what to expect," said Ellis, a third-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Angels. "After I got the first SEC win out of the way at South Carolina and figured out that my offense could help me and I didn't have to do it by myself. It was exciting from then out because I knew I could trust people behind me to make plays and score runs."

"It was exciting," said Trent, a 20th-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers. "You know coming you have spots to fill. When I got recruited, Coach (Carl) Lafferty said we needed weekend guys, and we want you to be a weekend guy. It's fun coming in and stepping in and be given such a role. It's an honor."

Pitching and command, more than velocity, head coach Mike Bianco said, separates this year's pitching staff from previous teams. Ellis has a power arm, Bianco continued, but he has success because he pitches with command and throws three different pitches in the strike zone, while Trent has had success with his fastball, change-up and slider, depending on the start. 

More than anything, confidence has gotten them to this point.

"The confidence in my defense, our hitting and coach's pitch-calling," said Trent, who admitted he has never shaken Bianco off. "He told me before I went out there in the Supers that we were going to throw straight fast balls. I didn't disagree with it. That's what I did, and it worked. I have complete trust in Coach B calling pitches and Will (Allen) behind the plate. It's great to have that kind of confidence in your team."

More on Bianco's pitch-calling system: Trust, track record important in pitch selection, writes Chase Parham from Rebel Grove/Rivals.com

LAS VEGAS -- Former Ole Miss Rebel and current Colorado Springs Sky Sox left-hander Drew Pomeranz made his major league debut with the Colorado Rockies on September 11, 2011. 

Less than two years after being selected by the Cleveland Indians with the fifth overall pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, he had made it, and he described being called up that fast as a very fortunate situation.

"The way my career went, getting up there so quick, I was fortunate to get a taste of that and learn the things I need to refine for when I go back up there to be ready," Pomeranz said.

"I'm trying to knock out a lot of the stuff I need to work on here (at Colorado Springs) while I have the opportunity because it's hard to work on things up there (in the major leagues). It's hard to work on things and concentrate on getting those guys out."

The Rockies acquired Pomeranz in a trade that sent Ubaldo Jimenez to the Indians, and less than two months later, he made his debut, starting four games in September, then moved into the rotation last year. 

He made 22 starts in the majors, posting a 2-9 record with a 4.93 ERA and 83 strikeouts against 46 walks in 96.2 innings. He also made 10 starts with Colorado Springs, which is where Pomeranz has pitched so far this year. 

"I needed to work on being with three pitches and being more efficient," Pomeranz said of what he needed to work on this year.

Those three pitches -- fastball, curveball and change-up -- Pomeranz said he felt he has had pretty much every outing this year for Colorado Springs, compared to last year in which he said a lot of times he had a fastball, maybe a curveball, just depending on the day. 

So far, so good for Pomeranz.

The Memphis, Tenn., native is tied for second in the Pacific Coast League (AAA) in wins with a 7-1 record to go along with a 4.35 ERA in 78.2 innings over 14 starts. He also leads the league in both strikeouts (93) and strikeouts per nine innings (10.64) against 32 walks.

"I'm trying to work on a lot of things down here. I've been feeling great. I'm not so much worried about the stats or how well I'm doing. It's more about how I feel, and I've felt probably the best I have felt in a while out there this year, so I'm pretty excited about that."

Despite the high strikeout numbers, Pomeranz said he is still working to be more efficient.

"I still struggle some with that, especially because I have been striking a lot of guys out this year, and tend to have a higher pitch count," he said of his efficiency. As of late, I have been trying to be more efficient and pitch deeper into games."

The former Rebel said he watched some Ole Miss baseball this past season, adding that "maybe this year they were going to do it." 

Recounting some of his memories in the red and blue, he was quick to mention his complete game with a school-record 16 strikeouts on two days' rest against Western Kentucky in the 2009 NCAA Regional, but also the 2009 NCAA Super Regional, "those Virginia games," "not winning that Virginia game." More than that, however, he said he took away from his three years in Oxford.

"I learned a lot of things about myself," he said. "I made the decision to go to college, instead of signing out of high school. Like I tell a lot of people, it was the best decision I ever made. I improved so much. Growing up and being surrounded by that kind of program, you learn a lot about yourself."

When asked about a possible return to the majors, his answer was simple.

"It's going to be great," he said. "I can't wait."


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Recent Comments

    Hunter Comstock said:

    Strange things happen to Ole Miss football teams in games played on Halloween. I don't know if I can bear to watch this one or not.

    in post Rebels Dominate In Prime-Time Spotlight

    Hunter Comstock said:

    Boy, I surely hope the Rebels don't have anymore nail biters like the Bama game. My nerves won't take it.

    in post Rebels Pass First Test in Search of Playoff Berth

    Joe Snaidauf said:

    Rebs stay healthy, they can win it all!!!

    in post Eleven Rebels Garner Phil Steele Preseason Honors

    Jamie laverty said:

    Bulmer I love you and ole Miss

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    Rhonda said:

    Coach Freeze is a genuine coach and our players and fans adore him!!

    in post Vote Freeze For Coach Of The Year

    Gary Vaughn said:

    It's great to be a Rebel fan. Coach Freeze
    Has brought back the excitement
    Competitiveness we all so desire. The
    fan base and even our doubters are
    Paying attention. Even the whole country
    Sport tLk shows ect. Are taking notice.
    After we upset Alabama this weekend
    38-27 we will bolt to a top 12 or better
    Ranking. Go Rebels

    in post Vote Freeze For Coach Of The Year

    Tom said:

    I am not and never have been an Ole Miss fan. I am however a Coach Freeze fan. I like what he represents in today's world of big time sports and what he stands for in leading young men of today into a more responsible role. He is everything that Ole Miss has never had. I am on his band wagon winning or losing.

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    Cory Wilson said:

    How can I get my hands on one of these?

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