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Crimson Tide Comes To Town To Take On Rebels

James McArthur. Photo by Steven Gagliano

The Rebels walked off with a win against Southern Miss earlier this week thanks to a wild pitch which scored Jason Barber from third base. The come-from-behind win saw Ole Miss trailing 4-0 in the 5th inning, but the offense suddenly came to life and stormed back for a 6-5 victory.

While a run scored from a relief pitcher who reached base by way of getting hit by a pitch may not be the way Mike Bianco drew it up, this kind of win may be just what the Rebels needed to kickstart the team. The Rebels have a chance to channel that momentum into this weekend’s series against the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Against Mississippi State, the Rebels were able to put themselves in positions to win but were ultimately unable to capitalize. The importance of their performance late against the Golden Eagles is certainly a step in the right direction. While the competition may seem stiffer in conference play, Southern Miss is a better ball club than Alabama, so Ole Miss has a great opportunity to win their first SEC series since the opener against Vanderbilt.
Ryan Olenek now leads the team with a .282 average, and 31 hits on the season. Still not clicking on all cylinders at the plate, there’s no clear threat in the Rebel lineup. Colby Bortles has 19 RBIs, but 10 of those have come off of sacrifice flies. Tate Blackman has reached base in 22 straight games but is hitting just .273. Perhaps the freshmen are still adjusting to the speed of college baseball with the highest average among them being Cole Zabowski’s .258. The lowest average is a .152 posted by catcher Cooper Johnson, who has been spectacular in the field.
After starter Greer Holston had given up four runs on Tuesday, his bullpen bailed on him, and a combination of five relievers limited the Golden Eagles to just one run, allowing the Rebel comeback to happen. The pitching staff deserves a ton of credit for continuing to keep Ole Miss in games. When it is time to call for the closer, Dallas Woolfolk has become a reliable arm out of the bullpen. Although Will Stokes began the season as the full-time closer, he has been moved into more of a setup-man role for Ole Miss with Woolfolk’s dominance. Woolfolk has a .83 ERA and has allowed just two runs in 15 appearances this season, with six saves.
Ole Miss may have found the perfect opponent to find their Grove at the plate, as the Crimson Tide has given up 28 runs over their last four games. The Tide has lost three of their last four and are looking for their first SEC series win. They will be led by Chandler Avant, whose .325 average leads the team. Taylor Chandler may be hitting just .229, but with seven home runs, he’s a threat to shift the momentum of a game during any at bat. With two players over 20 RBIs on the season, Alabama has been good at timely hitting with runners on base.
Pitching Matchups
Friday: RHP James McArthur (1-1, 2.00 ERA) takes the mound tonight for Ole Miss after pitching 6.2 innings and allowing two runs against MSU last week but didn’t receive a decision. LHP Dylan Duarte (2-1, 2.48 ERA) will get the start for the Tide. 
Saturday: LHP David Parkinson (4-2, 2.79) looks to bounce back after allowing five runs in his last start by shutting down the Tide on Saturday. RHP Nick Eicholtz (1-0, 5.96 ERA) will start game two of the series for Alabama. 
Sunday: LHP Ryan Rollison (3-1, 2.08) gets his second straight weekend start after pitching 6.0 and allowing two runs in a loss to MSU last Sunday. Alabama’s starter has not been announced. 
P.S. What better way is there spend National Beer Day than with beer showers out in right field? See you at Swayze this weekend!
Game Times 
Friday: 6 p.m.
Saturday: 3 p.m.
Sunday: 3 p.m.
Where to watch/listen
Sunday’s game will be the only televised game and can be seen on the SEC Network and SEC Network+. All games can be heard on the Ole Miss Radio Network and OleMissSports.com
All the bad weather moved out earlier this week, and it should be clear skies and perfect baseball weather this weekend. 

Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at steven.gagliano@hottytoddy.com.
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