It was cold and the Rebs didn't get a sweep and Sikes didn't dick slap any dingers, but you have to label the opening weekend of Ole Miss baseball a success. If nothing else, it gave us an enticing glimpse out of the frigid dearth of February and into the sunny, booze-splashed afternoons of April and May (I'm writing this having just stumbled inside from sub-zero wind chill in DC -- excuse me if I sound whimsical).
The No. 18 Diamond Rebs took two of three from William & Mary over the weekend, outlasting the Tribe in a close game on Friday before bouncing back from a dud early on Saturday to grab the second leg of a double header (Sunday's game was bumped up a day because of cold weather. Did I mention I'm ready for spring?).
W&M isn't a bad squad, by the way. They're picked to finish a decent third in the Colonial Athletic Association and were one of the nation's best offenses in 2014. Sure, they lost their top two hitters from a year ago, but this is still a good slugging team, so don't be too dismayed by the Rebel staff's collective early struggles.
Friday: Ole Miss 9, William & Mary 4
Saturday Game 1: William & Mary 8, Ole Miss 1
Saturday Game 2: Ole Miss 16, William & Mary 2
1. The new alcohol rules haven't killed Right Field.
Ole Miss twitter went justifiably bat shit last week after the athletic department sent out an email detailing new policies about drinking in the student section, including a wristband system to cut down on underage boozing and a ban on coolers over 20 quarts. Fortunately, it would seem that Ross Bjork is just covering his legal bases and not actually enforcing these shitty new rules. The folks I knew in attendance didn't have their coolers checked (though one of them came armed with mathematical proof just in case) and it doesn't sound like anyone had trouble with wristbands. There was also supposed to be a ban on couches, but at least three were set up on the terraces.
If anyone was subjected to any of these Orwellian policies, leave it in the comments section.
2. The pitching was a bit rusty.
The arms didn't exactly set the world on fire. Christian Trent allowed just one run in five innings on Friday, but struggled with control and had runners all over the bases. Evan Anderson gave up three runs in an inning and a third. Per usual, Sam Smith hit the wall in the fourth on Saturday and Matt Denny was a train wreck out of the pen behind him -- the pair combined to allow six runs in just a third of an inning.
It wasn't all bad, though: Scott Weathersby doused a rally (and notched a save) on Friday, Jacob Waguespack had a one-hit, five-inning relief outing in Game 2 and Wyatt Short closed the final frame of Game 3 with no hits and two strikeouts.
3. Brady Bramlett might be a legit weekend starter.
Coming off an injury that cost him all of last season, Bramlett was only in the starting rotation because JUCO transfer and eventual Saturday starter Sean Johnson is still recovering from a tindintus issue. But Bramlett made a pretty solid argument that it should be a permanent gig, allowing two runs and fanning eight in six innings in the rubber game on Saturday.
Mike Bianco sounded as if Johnson -- who threw just one inning in relief -- is still a ways from his first start, so Bramlett will probably have another outing or two to make his case. Hell, if Smith can't get his act together, Bramlett could even swipe his Sunday spot somewhere down the line.
4. Hater of the week:
@RFhater favorite line from RF today "hey 15 are you a William or a Mary?"— Ashley Henson (@dudenamedAshley) February 14, 2015
5. Lower seams don't mean gorilla ball ... yet.
The new baseball that the NCAA is using this season -- one with lower seams that produces less drag on a well-hit ball -- is supposed to provide more offense and more homers. While the ball did seem to carry a bit better, the Rebs only left the yard once: a three-run jack from Colby Bortles in Game 3. Not only did Sikes Orvis not send one out, he managed just one hit in 10 at-bats (though he did reach on three walks, because even when he's cold, nobody wants to pitch to that big motherfucker). The power numbers will come for Sikes and the rest of the team, but if opening weekend was any indication, it might not be as big of a boost as expected.
Look at the silver lining: fewer beer showers mean fewer times you have to explain to your parents why you keep overdrafting your debit card on trips to the gas station.