Over the weekend the Ole Miss Rebels went 0-3 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic as they faced 3 top 25 opponents, including the #1 team in the country, TCU. Unable to get their bats going, the Rebels scored just four runs throughout the weekend. In the midst of a four-game slide, the Rebels have a chance to get back in the win column with a 2-game series against Georgia State beginning today.
The Rebels issues didn’t end at the plate over the weekend; they extended into the field as well. After a 4-error performance against Memphis last Tuesday, we expected to see a much improved defensive performance in Houston. However that was not the case, the team finished with more errors (5) than runs in the three-game stretch.
The Rebels 7-0 start was built on timely hitting, quality defense and strong pitching. Over the weekend, Ole Miss never held a lead. The Rebels managed just two hits against Baylor, and while that number increase against Texas Tech and TCU, the hits weren’t happening with runners in scoring position. The same things that got Mike Bianco’s Rebels off to a hot start are the same things plaguing them as of late. Starters David Parkinson and Brady Feigl each experienced rough outings giving up 3 and 5 runs. James McArthur committed to errors of his own on his way to his first loss of the season against Texas Tech.
Heading into the Georgia State series, the Rebels must put an emphasis on getting runners on base. While that may seem obvious, the approach can change. Hitters must be more patient at the plate, make the pitcher work and get into favorable counts. When on base, runners may need to be more aggressive. Through the use of hit-and-runs and stolen bases, more pressure can be put on the Panther pitchers leading to a mistake.
Freshman Ryan Rolison (1-0, 4.26 ERA) will get his first start of the season today. Rolison struck out six batters against Texas Tech but also allowed two runs in 2.2 innings of work. GSU will send junior Brandon Baker (0-1, 5.68) to the mound.
After missing last week’s game against Memphis due to the flu, freshman Will Ethridge will take the mound for Ole Miss on Wednesday. The Wednesday starter for the Panthers has yet to be announced.
With a 6-4 record, Georgia State has had an up and down start to the 2017 season. A dynamic duo at the plate leads the way for the Panthers. Romero Green leads the Sun Belt Conference with a .531 average, and Ryan Blanton has compiled a decorated stat line in the first 10 games of the year. Blanton has 10 RBI, 2 home runs, 10 runs scored, and 2 triples. The Panthers hitting ability again puts the pressure on Ole Miss to shut them down early and build a solid lead before GSU gets rolling.
First pitch at Swayze is set for 6:30 assuming that the morning storms move out of town, which appears likely. Game 2 of the series will begin tomorrow at 3 p.m.
Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.