Rebels get final preparation in for Maryland
LOS ANGELES – It was a workout day for all four teams in the Los Angeles regional Thursday, and Ole Miss and Maryland got one final tune-up before their first-round showdown tonight at Jackie Robinson Stadium (6 p.m. CT, ESPN3).
Ole Miss got into Los Angeles midday Wednesday and had a closed practice at a nearby high school that evening before being able to practice Thursday at the stadium. Between the weeklong practices schedule the Rebels had back in Oxford and the two in California, Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco feels they are as ready as they can be.
“Pretty seamless,” Bianco said. “Today looked like a normal practice. A lot of energy and now you can get a good night’s rest. Coming out here, it is probably better for the players than it is the coaches. The nights become much later and (the coaches) are usually in bed, but (the players) probably function a little better than we do.”
Having to come all the way to California and with the distractions that come with Los Angeles, there would be concern of the younger players getting caught up in their surroundings, but they have come with a work-like mentality and focused on their goal of advancing to a super regional.
“Coach (Bianco) does a good job with that,” pitcher Christian Trent said of keeping the team focused. “Especially now more than ever. It’s a business trip. It’s not a vacation. We’re not here to go do whatever. We’ve got to keep our minds on baseball.”
Trent will take the mound tonight for Ole Miss, and it will be a battle of aces as Maryland will send out Mike Shawaryn. The extended time off for Trent, who hasn’t thrown since the final regular-season series two weeks ago, has got his arm feeling close to what it did in February when the season started. That is something the Rebels are going to need as scoring runs may be at a premium.
“Normally when I get to my ‘pen day, which is usually on a Tuesday, my arm is still dragging a little bit, but it felt great with the extra days off,” Trent said. “My arm’s been really good all week.”
This is the first matchup between the teams on the baseball field, but Maryland was still able to scout and learn a little bit about Ole Miss. In fact, most of the Terps’ help came from the SEC Network and the ability to watch nearly every game.
“With the SEC Network, you’re able to watch a lot of video,” said Maryland pitching coach Jim Belanger, who will fill in for suspended head coach John Szefc. “So you’re able to see how they play and their hitters and their arms. Obviously Ole Miss is a national program in a national conference. They win all the time, so you don’t have to do too much research to find out their stuff.”
After missing the last regular-season series and the Southeastern Conference tournament, Connor Cloyd is set to return to the Ole Miss lineup.
Cloyd had been battling an injury to his oblique that was nagging, but he is finally healthy enough to contribute when the Rebels need him and his bat the most.
“The only way I can explain it is that it’s like a pulled hamstring,” Bianco said. “You just don’t know until they’re 100 percent. … As a hitter you can either swing with that oblique or you can’t. We talked a lot about the last 10 days or so about the rest and how that might help us, and certainly it has.”
Bramlett’s busy week
Sometimes the role of student in student athlete gets lost in the shuffle. For Brady Bramlett, it does not, and that role of student ambassador caused him to be in Oxford on Monday, Destin, Florida on Tuesday and then in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
Bramlett, who’s in line to get the start in Ole Miss’ second game Saturday, is a vice-chair of the national Student Athletic Advisory Committee and gave a presentation to the athletic directors during the SEC spring meetings being held in the Florida panhandle this week.
“It was a great pride, but it’s also very humbling to see the behind-the-scenes of college athletics,” Bramlett said. “There’s a lot that people in the stands even on the field that don’t know what’s going on, so it’s a great experience.”
LOS ANGELES REGIONAL SCHEDULE
Friday, May 29
Game 1: No. 2 Ole Miss (30-26, 15-14 SEC) vs. No. 3 Maryland (39-21, 14-10 Big Ten), 6:00 p.m. (TV: ESPN3)
Game 2: No. 1 UCLA (42-14, 22-8 Pac-12) vs. No. 4 CSU Bakersfield (36-22-1, 17-9-1 WAC), 10:00 p.m. (TV: ESPNU)
Saturday, May 30
Game 3: Losers of Games 1 & 2, 6:00 p.m.
Game 4: Winners of Games 1 & 2, 10:00 p.m.
Sunday, May 31
Game 5: Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 6:00 p.m.
Game 6: Winners of Games 4 & 5, 10:00 p.m.
Monday, June 1
Game 7 (if nec.): 10:00 p.m.
*All games broadcast on ESPNU or ESPN3
by JAKE THOMPSON, Courtesy of the Oxford Eagle