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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

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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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