May 11, 2013 12:20:54 PM
OXFORD - After an eight-minute, half-inning at Swayze Field last night, the series-opening baseball game between No. 21 Mississippi State University and the University of Mississippi at Oxford-University Stadium was suspended due to heavy rain in the area. The rain created a flooding problem at the park including a large pond in short centerfield so the game will be resumed at 3 p.m. today as part of a doubleheader.
The Dispatch MSU Sports Blog confirmed from MSU coach John Cohen that senior left-hander Luis Pollorena (6-2, 3.92) will be on the mound for the Bulldogs in the restarted game in the bottom of the first inning. The southpaw from Laredo, Texas, who owns a very successful career record against Ole Miss, warmed up minutes before the players were taken off the field for the final time Friday. Pollorena's history as a reliever more allows Cohen and MSU pitching coach Butch Thompson to decide to put him back out there less than 24 hours after getting ready to pitch right before the game was postponed.
The debate becomes what does Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco do with Rebels starting pitcher Bobby Wahl? The junior right-hander struck out the side, mixed in with an error on the shortstop, on 15 pitches and would have to be brought back less than 24 hours after sitting for almost two hours following his impressive first inning performance.
Wahl, who is a projected first round pick in the 2013 MLB Draft next month, is 9-0 and the Rebels are 11-2 when he is the starting pitcher. The unknown question is would Wahl, who has had arm injury problems earlier in his college career that caused him to be a reliever as a freshmen, be comfortable with warming up and getting ready to continue after the delay and postponement. The junior has never trailed in a game this season and Ole Miss (33-16, 12-12 in Southeastern Conference) needs a quality pitching performance to open up a critical series as they try to maintain their status for an NCAA Regional berth.
The closest scenario that I can think of to this situation is 2012 Super Regionals when North Carolina State University freshman left-handed Carlos Rodon was lifted after just 40 pitches following a two-hour rain delay. Rodon earned first-team All-America honors by going 9-0, 1.57 with 135 strikeouts and 41 walks in 115 innings and was a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award. He was also named the Atlantic Coast Conference's pitcher of the year and freshman of the year after leading the Wolfpack to a super regional and a 43-20 overall record but N.C. State coach Elliott Avent was not about to risk an injury that can come with bringing a pitcher back from this type of situation. This scenario caused a major debate on Twitter among Keith Law, senior baseball writer for ESPN.com and ESPN Scouts, Inc., and fans and other media members as to what N.C. State should do.
If Bianco decides to send Wahl back on the mound today, the scouting community (which included at least 20 from professional organizations Friday night) will most certainly have a fit seeing as Wahl is a commodity that one franchise is months away from investing over $1 million in as a first round selection.
As the closer on Team USA this summer, Wahl has had issues with how he could be used including the inability to be able to pitch on back to back days.
"We just do not know," Baseball America senior editor John Manuel said Saturday morning when asked about this kind situation. "All pitchers not alike. Some guys do better the more they work. Wahl does not have that track record."
So....when the suspended game is resumed and Ole Miss comes back out for defense in the second inning, Bianco will have a serious decision that will have ramifications for both his ball club and Wahl's future no matter what he decides to do.
All of the Dispatch MSU Sports Blog readers: feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/matthewcstevens for up-to-date Mississippi State coverage.
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