OXFORD • In the final weekend tuneup to SEC play, Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco hopes to see bullpen roles more clearly defined for young players.
Four of the six pitchers used in the Rebels’ 8-1 win over Memphis on Tuesday – their 11th-straight win – were freshmen, but it was the veterans who got the biggest outs.
Austin Miller and Max Cioffi will again be part of the plan when Ole Miss takes on Princeton for three games at Swayze Field. Start times are 6:30 tonight, 1:30 on Saturday and noon on Sunday.
Miller and Cioffi each pitched 1 2/3 hitless, scoreless innings against Memphis and combined for seven strikeouts.
“While you’re trying to pitch some of the younger guys, those two older guys, when they got in trouble, kind of bailed them out,” Bianco said.
Freshman Wes Burton, the first guy out in relief of freshman Jackson Kimbrell, gave up two hits and a walk in 1 1/3 innings.
Miller relieved him with a runner at second and one out and got back-to-back swinging strikeouts to get out of the inning.
Freshman Dru McDaniel got the first out of the seventh, then loaded the bases with a hit, a walk and a hit batter.
Cioffi came on and got three-hole hitter Hunter Goodman – who had just had four home runs and 22 RBIs in a sweep of Western Illinois – to ground into a double play.
Freshman Cole Baker threw a scoreless ninth though two runners reached base, one with a hit, the other on an error by reserve first baseman Trey LaFleur.
Princeton (0-4) didn’t start its season until Feb. 28 and lost all four games last weekend against Penn State in Cary, North Carolina. Two were blowouts, and two were one-run games.
The Ole Miss win streak has pushed its RPI to No. 4, but just playing Princeton – and its 234 RPI – will likely adjust that a bit.
“We need to get to the point that we don’t rely so much on Cioffi, Miller and (Taylor) Broadway,” Bianco said. “We need a little more consistency and maybe some length. We need a few more pieces to the bullpen, and they’re there.”