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Diamond Rebels Take on Long Beach State in California

Grae Kessinger, Photo by Steven Gagliano

The No. 8 Ole Miss Rebels baseball team hits the road for the first time this season as they head to the west coast to California to take on Long Beach State in a three-game series tilt.

Ole Miss (8-0) heads into the weekend after a midweek thriller: a 7-6, walk-off win over Murray State. Sophomore Thomas Dillard scored the winning run on a bases-loaded wild pitch.
So far on the young season, the Rebels’ bats have been on fire starting with the top of the order, Grae Kessinger. Kessinger continues his hot start at the plate with a .452 clip and four extra-base hits, just three from tying his season total from 2017. The shortstop is tied for 11th in the SEC in batting averages.
Long Beach State is 3-6 on the year, having opened the season with a pair of series vs. Saint Mary’s and at No. 7 TCU. The Dirtbags are led by head coach Troy Buckley in his eighth season and are coming off a memorable 2017 campaign that saw them host both a regional and a super regional as a national seed, having earned the bid behind a 40-20-1 record. The Dirtbags were picked to finish second in the Big West during the preseason behind the arm of junior reliever Chris Rivera, who was tabbed as a Preseason All-American closer by the NCBWA.
The Dirtbags opened their 2018 season with an impressive slate of opponents, beginning with a series against Saint Mary’s at their home stadium. Long Beach State opened with a victory before losing the back end and dropping the series. The Dirtbags dropped a midweek game vs. in-state foe USC, 5-1, before jetting off to face No. 7 TCU. Long Beach State started on a high note with a 3-2 victory over the Horned Frogs before losing two out of the last three to close the series. Before facing the Rebels, the Dirtbags had a two-game midweek stretch vs. Arizona State losing the first 1-0, but exploding for 16 runs in the second for their third victory of the year.
Ole Miss and Long Beach State have met just twice before, both before the arrival of head coach Mike Bianco. In the most recent meeting, the Dirtbags edged the Rebels 4-3 in 10 innings in Game 1 of the College Station Regional. The first meeting between the teams took place in 1997, when the Rebels topped the Dirtbags 5-4 in Long Beach as part of a 2-1 weekend at the Beach Baseball Classic.
The probable pitching matchup for this weekend will showcase the arms of LHP Ryan Rolison (Friday), RHP Brady Feigl (Saturday) and RHP James McArthur (Sunday). The Dirtbags will send to the mound a pair of southpaws in Zack Baayoun (Friday) and Clayton Andrews (Saturday) while the hurler for Sunday has not been announced.
First pitch is set for Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Fans can listen to every game on the Ole Miss Radio Network. To get all the latest information on Ole Miss baseball follow HottyToddy.com.

Adam Brown is the sports editor of HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at adam.brown@hottytoddy.com.

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