Ole Miss-ULL: Tonight's pitching matchup
So, here’s tonight’s Super Regional pitching matchup in Lafayette where the Ragin Cajuns won the coin flip to be the home team in the deciding game against Ole Miss.
• For ULL, senior left-handed pitcher Cody Boutte, who has an imposing 9-0 record as the Cajuns No. 3 starter. He is the epitome of the baseball cliché: crafty left-hander, which translated means he doesn’t throw hard but really knows how to pitch. As Boo Ferriss would put, “A little of this, a little of that, change speeds, in and out, up and down.”
“He competes,” is the way John Cohen put it. Boutte went five innings against Mississippi State in last week’s Lafayette Regional, picking up his ninth victory.
Boutte, whose fastball tops out in the mid-80s and whose ERA average was 3.09, was not drafted in the recent MLB amateur draft.
• For Ole Miss, junior right-hander Sam Smith, who is 5-4 with a 3.39 earned run average and was also undrafted in the recent free agent draft. Smith struggled some in the late season then pitched well against Washington in the Super Regional.
A south Louisiana native, Smith throws harder than Boutte but is not considered overpowering. His best pitch is probably his slider. The key for him is to command both the fast ball and slider.
My take: Despite the disparity in records, I’d call the pitching matchup about even. Boutte normally pitched the Sunday games of Sun Belt Conference series and his ULL teammates usually scored runs in bunches in those Sunday games.
Here’s something to watch early: Sunday night, ULL got away from its usual game plan of making the opposing pitcher — in this case, Christian Trent — throw strikes. The Cajuns weren’t as selective as they normally are, swung at a lot of bad pitches and paid the price. If they don’t make Smith throw his slider in the strike zone, he could be really effective.
On the other hand, ULL hasn’t won 58 games this season by not being able to make adjustments.
That Ole Miss has a well-rested Scott Weathersby in the bullpen is a huge plus for the Rebels.