Wyatt Short prepared to take the mound as a starter if Ole Miss needs him
OXFORD – When Wyatt Short was called up to replace Andy Pagnozzi in the top of the fourth inning against then-No. 10 South Carolina last Saturday afternoon, he quickly sprinted to the mound and ran out to a standing ovation.
And it was well-deserved as Short showed his usual poise while facing 19 Gamecocks’ batters in 5.2 innings, giving up only one hit and one run in the process. Short threw a total of 66 pitches—a surprise to many since he has primarily been used as a closer for the Rebels.
But Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco was forced to go with the veteran Short sooner than planned after seeing his freshman starter give up six hits and three runs in 3.1 innings. Fortunately for the Rebels, Short was prepared—explaining he is ready whenever his name is called.
Short ready to do whatever Rebels need
The junior left-handed pitcher from Southaven, Mississippi wants to do whatever it takes to help No. 11 Ole Miss (20-5, 2-4 Southeastern Conference) win games this season in the highly competitive SEC.
“I’m here to do whatever the team needs me to do,” said Short, who’s tied with Scott Bittle for fourth-most career saves in school history (18).
Ole Miss pitcher Wyatt Short
Now the question is: Could Short become a starter for a Rebels’ team that appears to be lacking a solid pitcher to start the first three innings? Bianco hasn’t ruled out anything about making changes to his starting pitching lineup. In Friday’s 9-5 loss to South Carolina, starting RHP Chad Smith had a rough outing and gave up eight hits and five runs in 4.2 innings, as Ole Miss found itself quickly down, 5-2.
After seeing Short’s outstanding performance against the Gamecocks, Bianco may rethink things moving forward, especially with a tough matchup coming at No. 12 Mississippi State (18-7, 4-2 SEC). The series begins Friday night (6:30 p.m. CST, SECN+) inside Dudy Noble Field.
Possibility of using Short as a starter is in the back of Bianco’s mind
“We talked about it early on and certainly, especially, after the outing today,” was Bianco’s response Saturday to when asked whether or not Short could become a starter. “But there are other things. Once you pull him out of there, then there’s the backend. It doesn’t get complicated, but you have to make some different moves.
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco
Short: ‘I feel like my arm can handle it’
Speaking of having a lot left in the tank, Short has been preparing himself for significant innings on the mound, thanks to the help of the entire coaching staff. He knows his name could be called at any moment if a Rebels’ starting pitcher struggles to keep the opponents off base.
“I can definitely go,” was Short’s response when asked whether or not he can go for long innings. “I would be more than happy to start if he needs me to. I feel like my arm can handle it. They’ve got me prepared.”
Short outstanding against State
Last season, Wyatt Short pitched in all three weekend games against Mississippi State, notching two saves and a victory en route to earning SEC Co-Pitcher of the Week honors. He pitched one scoreless inning in each game and did not allow a hit as he retired nine of the 10 batters he faced throughout the weekend, striking out four of them. If you add in the 2.1 innings of work as a freshman, Short has not allowed a run in four career appearances (5.2 innings) against the Bulldogs.
Before facing the Bulldogs Friday, the Rebels had been scheduled to play at Memphis on Wednesday night, but due to the inclement weather, the game was postponed and has been rescheduled for April 19.
(Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)