After hosting matchups against Tennessee and New Orleans, Rebel baseball will travel to College Station this weekend for its SEC road opener against Texas A&M. Ole Miss enters the series with a 20-2 overall record, while sitting at 2-1 in conference play.
Against the Volunteers in last weekend’s series, the Rebels dropped a close first game before bouncing back impressively during their second and third games. The Rebels forced their second shutout of the year en route to a game-three win, led by strong pitching from James McArthur and Parker Caracci. The team also earned its third three-home-run game of the season after Jacob Adams, Thomas Dillard and Cole Zabowski each sent a shot out of Swayze.
On Tuesday, Ole Miss hosted a struggling 9-11 New Orleans team. In a high-octane shootout, the Rebels put nine runs on the board, thanks largely to two clutch hits from Dillard. After taking a 3-0 lead in the second inning, the Rebels never looked back as they ran away to a 9-4 lead and their 20th win of the season. Ole Miss was the first Division I baseball team in the nation to reach 20 wins.
The upcoming series with No. 12 Texas A&M presents an opportunity for Ole Miss to cement its place in college baseball’s top tier. The Aggies will kick off the series with an 18-4 overall record, sitting at 1-2 in conference play. With that said, the Aggies are struggling at the moment. They are fresh off losses in three of their last five games. After losing an 18-inning showdown against UT-Arlington, Texas A&M dropped its first two conference games at No. 9 Auburn by scores of 1-4 and 5-11. The Aggies bounced back in their final game against the Tigers, though, escaping with a 5-1 win. On Tuesday night, Texas A&M traveled to Rice University and left with a convincing 13-4 win.
With blemishes on each team’s conference resume, neither can afford to drop too many early games. And pitching will be key, as both teams are currently scoring an average of 7.2 runs per game. Aces Brady Feigl and James McArthur will look to continue their impressive play. The pair has combined for eight wins thus far this season.
On the offensive side of things, the Rebels are hoping for another strong showing from Dillard and Nick Fortes. Dillard leads the Rebs with six home runs, 24 runs, 26 hits and 21 RBIs with a .342 batting average. With these stats, the sophomore slugger has put himself in position to contend for SEC Player of the Year. Fortes sits right behind Dillard in runs (20), hits (23) and RBIs (17), making for the perfect one-two punch during conference play.
Thursday’s first pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. in College Station, Texas. Friday’s first pitch is also scheduled for 6 p.m., and Saturday’s is at 2 p.m. The weekend’s first two matches will be televised on SEC Network.