The Ole Miss Rebels (2-1) will look to continue their winning ways this weekend as Wright State (3-0) comes to town. Due to last Saturday’s doubleheader and the postponement of the Arkansas State game, the Rebels haven’t played a game in six days. That time away could make it increasingly difficult for the players to get “heated up” especially considering the anticipated frigid temperatures in Oxford for the series.
Wright State kicked off the season in style, winning three games in Nashville last weekend, one over Belmont followed by two over Toledo. The Raiders outscored their opponents 29-12 on the weekend, including an impressive five home runs.
Two of the home runs were hit by junior college transfer Ryan Fucci. The 6’1 outfielder had an impressive debut for WSU, going 6-12 with three doubles, two homers and seven RBI. He also had a sacrifice fly, a sacrifice bunt and stole a base. Despite his .500 average, Fucci was almost literally “either hit or miss,” as he struck out five times in his 12 at-bats. Derreck Garcia, Sean Murphy and Gabe Snyder also hit home runs.
The projected pitching matchups are as follows:
Friday, 3 P.M.
Wright State: Robby Sexton, Jr., LHP, 0-0, 8.44 ERA
Ole Miss: Christian Trent, Jr., LHP, 1-0, 1.80 ERA
Saturday 1:30 P.M.
Wright State: Jesse Scholtens, Jr., RHP, 1-0, 1.29 ERA
Ole Miss: Brady Bramlett, Soph., RHP, 1-0, 3.00 ERA
Sunday 1:30 P.M.
Wright State: Trevor Swaney, R-So., RHP, 0-0, 2.57 ERA
Ole Miss: Sam Smith, Sr., RHP, 0-1, 12.00 ERA
Sexton struggled mightily in his start of the season, allowing six hits, five earned runs, two home runs, a triple, a walk and a balk in 5.1 innings. The junior from Pataskala, Ohio will look to return to his 2014 form that saw him go 8-4 with a 2.95 ERA.
The rest of the Raider staff pitched well, especially the bullpen, allowing just one earned run in 7.2 innings. Swaney went seven innings, allowing four hits, three runs, two earned runs and two home runs in seven innings. Everyone was looking up to Scholtens, however, as the junior righty pitched seven innings of one-run baseball, striking out nine batters and walking none.
Ole Miss’ pitching staff is in the same spot as Wright State: one terrific start, one solid appearance and a veteran that looks for a strong rebound from a rough opener. The ace was Trent, who improved to 10-0 in his Ole Miss career with five innings of one-run ball, adding six strikeouts. Bramlett looked good in his first start since 2013 due to injury, going six innings, allowing four hits, two runs, striking out eight and allowing no walks. Smith, on the other hand, had a start to regret. The senior only lasted three innings, allowing four hits, four runs, a home run, while walking three men.
The Rebels also had a stellar showing from the pen, allowing just two earned runs in 13 innings. Efforts were led by Jacob Waguespack, who went five innings, allowing one hit, one unearned run and struck out two.
On the offensive side of the ball, Ole Miss had a lot of good performances. Blossoming stars from last year’s team Errol Robinson, J.B. Woodman and Colby Bortles all had great weekends. Robinson hit .364 with five RBI, Woodman mashed for .556 with three doubles, and Bortles slugged the team’s only long-ball while batting .333.
Head coach Mike Bianco also got good performances by some old faces whose roles have increased drastically going into 2015, right fielder Cameron Dishon and designated hitter/catcher Henri Lartigue. Dishon hit .400 on the weekend, including a double and a stolen base. Lartigue also hit .400 while racking up a pair of doubles.
The best performance was undoubtedly from freshman Kyle Watson, the Memphis native that transitioned from infield to outfield. Watson played in two games, stroking three doubles in just four at-bats, good for a .750 average. He also walked twice and was hit by a pitch, leaving him with an outstanding ..857 on-base percentage.
If the Rebels can continue to get production like this from the front and backend of the lineup while getting Sikes Orvis and Tate Blackman going, the bats are going to be hard to stop.
All three games will be broadcast on Rebel Radio as well as SEC Network+. First pitch today is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Oxford-University Stadium.
Michael Quirk is a HottyToddy.com staff reporter and can be reached at email@example.com.