It seems like just yesterday that baseball season was around the corner, but suddenly the Rebels have only 20 games left in the season and only nine of which will be played at home.
One of those games will be played this afternoon as Ole Miss takes on the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff. After dropping the LSU series over the weekend, the Rebels need to have a short memory as the last month of the regular season approaches.
The series with LSU was a mixed bag for Ole Miss, suffering a blowout 15-2 loss in game 1, a 4-1 win powered by four solo home runs, and then a tough 3-2 loss when the Rebel offense was, once again, nowhere to be found.
The Rebels’ struggles at the plate have been well documented but have perhaps overshadowed the Rebels’ defensive struggles. Seven errors were committed over the weekend, bringing the team’s total to 42 on the season, good (bad) for the third worst in the SEC. Grae Kissinger leads the team in the unfortunate category with 8, followed by 2B Tate Blackman with 7, and next up with 4 is 3B Colby Bortles. Having the team’s two captains near the top of the list is not what you want to see, especially at this critical point in the year.
I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t continue to inform you of Ole Miss’ inability to put the bat on the ball. As a team, the Rebels are hitting a combined .242 with four lineup regulars hitting below the .250 mark. The Rebels currently rank at the bottom of the SEC in key stats such as average runs scored (157), hits (280), slugging percentage (.366) and several others.
The only saving grace continues to be the Rebels’ pitching staff with an SEC-best 2.84 ERA. Trying to keep that number low tonight will be Greer Holston (2-2, 2.64 ERA). Holston’s last outing saw the freshman throw six shutout innings in a win over Southern Miss.
Taking the mound for UAPB will be RHP Nathan Sawrie (2-3, 6.60 ERA).
While Ole Miss isn’t playing their best baseball of the season, a matchup with UAPB (11-23) may be just what the doctor ordered ahead of a weekend series with Missouri. The Golden Lions are 1-6 against the SEC this season with their only win coming against an Alabama team, which the Rebels swept last weekend. UPAB doesn’t knock the cover off the ball either so tonight’s game could be a low-scoring affair. The most consistent presence in the lineup is Knox Jordan, whose .340 average is the best on the team.
Tonight’s game isn’t a must-win because of the opponent, it’s a must-win for the mindset of the Rebels as a team. With weekend series against #14 Arkansas, #12 Florida and #11 Auburn on the horizon, it’s now or never for Ole Miss. With a 22-14 overall record and 7-8 in the conference, a team once ranked in the top 10 is in danger of missing out on postseason play. Just 12 teams make the SEC tournament, and missing out on that may not allow them to make the 64 team field of the NCAA tournament.
First pitch from Swayze Field is set for 6:30 p.m. with men receiving free admission for Men’s Health Night presented by Rebel Well. Coincidentally, it’s also $1 hot dog night. Kids 12 and under also get in free.
No clouds or rain in the forecast, it should be a great night for baseball.
Where to Watch/Listen
The game can be seen on SEC Network+ and heard on the Ole Miss Radio Network along with OleMissSports.com.
Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.