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No. 20 Rebels host Red Wolves in today's home opener

Quentin Winstine/The Daily Mississippian

 

Baseball head coach Mike Bianco announced Sunday that freshman Sam Smith will take the hill today as the Rebels (1-1) host the Arkansas State Red Wolves (0-2) at 3 p.m. from Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field in their home opener.

“It could have been a slew of guys,” Bianco said of Smith getting the start. “And we will pitch some more guys in that game, but we’re trying to define some roles. And after pitching a little on Friday, I think (Smith) is ready to start it.”

Smith, who is set to make his first start of his young college career, is excited about the opportunity.

“It’s an honor to get the start,” the Lake Charles, La., native said. “We’ve got a really talented staff, so anyone could’ve gotten the job. But I’ll be ready. I’m just going to pound the zone and let my defense work and get the win.”

While this is his first start, it’s not Smith’s first appearance this season. He came into Friday’s game against No. 10 TCU in relief where he pitched one and one-third scoreless and hitless innings with a strikeout.

“It was intense,” Smith said of Friday’s game. “I went in there just trying to pound the zone and get outs. I got out of a big situation there. It was fun.”

With a game under his belt, Smith knows what to expect.

“I took away that you just need to simplify the game really,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, you just got to make pitches. As long as you execute pitches, you’ll be OK.” 

Bousfield solid all-around in debut

Freshman Auston Bousfield was among three position players to make their Ole Miss debuts over the weekend, and all three made some key defensive plays.

Junior college transfer Andrew Mistone made a couple of tough plays at third in addition to a solo home run to extend the Rebel lead to three at 7-4 in Friday’s season opener. Freshman Will Jamison made a spectacular catch against the wall in the same game. Bousfield ended two innings by throwing out runners at the plate and just missed a third outfield assist.

“The first one was me and Yarbrough,” the freshman from Oakland, Fla., said. “I threw it to him, and he threw the guy out. There was definitely a lot of teamwork on that one. It was a lot of fun. The second one, that was exciting. All the crowd went nuts and stuff, so that was definitely a lot of fun to throw him out.” 

Bousfield has also shown that he can make some contributions with his bat. In Friday’s game, Bousfield batted second and went 1-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored. In Sunday’s game, he went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored at the top of the Rebels’ lineup.

“I felt good about it,” Bousfield said of his first weekend at the plate. “I tried a lot of situational stuff just not trying to do too much — move guys over, get guys in. I’m just trying to stay within myself.”

Wahl happy with first start

Sophomore Bobby Wahl didn’t have his best stuff on Friday night, but he was happy to get the win.

“Early on, I probably wasn’t locating my fastball well enough,” Wahl said. “I was up in the zone and got hit a little bit. Later on, I kind of got in more of a groove. I wasn’t really settled in the entire game, which was a little frustrating.”

Wahl, now 1-0 on the year, gave up two runs on five hits with two strikeouts through five innings in the first weekend start of his career.

“I’ve got to thank my defense for everything they did,” the Springfield, Va., native said. “It really helps me as a pitcher. It was pretty much all them on Friday. I just tried to do my job, make pitches and live in the zone. They made me look a lot better that I really did on Friday night.”