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Pomeranz, Rebels stifle Gamecocks

This time around, Drew Pomeranz got the win and Ole Miss got the shutout.

By defeating South Carolina 3-0 Wednesday afternoon at Regions Park in the first round of the SEC tournament, the Rebels reversed the result of last month when the big left-hander threw against the Gamecocks.

No. 10 USC, the tournament's third seed, faces No. 13 Auburn (39-19), the SEC's second seed, at 10:30 a.m. today in an elimination game. Sixth-seeded Ole Miss (37-20) faces seventh-seeded Alabama (35-21), which defeated Auburn 7-1, in a winners' bracket game later today.

In April, USC defeated Ole Miss 5-0 when ace Blake Cooper threw a complete-game shutout against the Rebels. Pomeranz, who's expected to be an early first-round pick in the MLB draft next month, pitched seven shutout innings of two-hit baseball but left with a no-decision.

Pomeranz, a 6-foot-5 junior, pitched seven more shutout innings Wednesday against the Gamecocks, allowing six hits, all singles, to go with seven strikeouts, which boosted his league-leading total to 134. The difference was he allowed one walk, three fewer than his first outing against USC.

"He was locating his fastball," said USC outfielder Jackie Bradley, who got two hits off Pomeranz. "He'd throw any pitch in any count and use both sides of the plate."

"I don't want to take anything away from Pomeranz and (Ole Miss reliever Brett) Huber," USC coach Ray Tanner said. "I'm getting a little frustrated at our offense. We got a few hits, but we have to do a better job. We have to compete better."

He also didn't have Cooper matching zeroes with Pomeranz. He decided to hold his senior, who is 10-1 with a 3.08 ERA, until today's game to keep him on a full week's rest, a decision he did not regret. Six USC pitchers allowed three runs on nine hits.

"From a positive standpoint, our pitching staff gave us an opportunity to win today," Tanner said.

But Ole Miss got the big blow that the Gamecocks could not get.

The Rebels took a 2-0 lead off left-hander Nolan Belcher in the top of the third inning. Mike Snyder led off with a single, and one out later, Miles Hamblin drilled a long home run to right field. Hamblin, who was hitting ninth in the order, crushed a 3-2 fastball for his fifth homer of the season.

The Gamecocks got a runner to third base in the second and third innings off Pomeranz (8-2), who lowered his conference-best ERA to 2.21, but they couldn't score either time. In the third, after a walk to Whit Merrifield and a single by Bradley, Pomeranz struck out Adam Matthews and Christian Walker to get out of the jam.

"I was just trying to keep making good pitches and not give up," Pomeranz said. "I wanted to keep filling up the strike zone."

The Rebels added an insurance run in the seventh.

"You can see why we're so happy to have Drew Pomeranz on our team," Rebels coach Mike Bianco said. "It was a tremendous effort on his part."

The Gamecocks are looking for their own tremendous effort.

"We don't want to go home early," Bradley said.