Ole Miss baseball sits at a 2-1 record and will travel to New Orleans this weekend to take on the Tulane Green Wave. The Rebels come into the series on an offensive high after racking up 15 runs and 19 hits against Arkansas State on Wednesday, led by Thomas Dillard and Tyler Keenan who each hit a home run and combined for eight RBIs.
The question marks for the Rebels early this season have been with the pitching staff.
Typical Friday starter Will Ethridge suffered a blister on his pitching hand last week and was scratched from this weekend’s rotation as a result. Instead, the Rebels will give the ball to Zack Phillips on Friday night. Phillips struggled to find a groove against Wright State last Saturday in the Rebels’ lone loss.
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco is optimistic about Ethridge’s return but doesn’t want to bring him back before he’s ready.
“(The blister is) worse than we expected, but it’s one of those things where you just don’t want
to rush him back,” Bianco said. “We just don’t want to fight it every week.”
Phillips will be followed on the mound this weekend by Houston Roth on Saturday and Gunnar Hoglund on Sunday, who both saw their first action of the season on Wednesday. Hoglund started on the hill Wednesday and pitched two innings, giving up four hits and three runs, two of which came in the first inning and put Ole Miss in an early hole.
Despite the shaky start, Bianco still penciled Hoglund in for the Sunday starting role for this weekend’s trip to New Orleans.
“It’s tough,” Bianco said. “It’s hard to put into words, the first time you run out there and pitch. It’s different in our sport than other sports because you can’t hide. The pitcher’s got to do it himself. It’s tough with all the expectations and what not, but (Hoglund is) so good. He hung in there, and, of course, a lot of credit has got to go to the offense.”
After Hoglund’s outing on Wednesday, he was relieved by Roth who also pitched two innings, giving up only one hit and one walk and striking out four. Roth saw no action last weekend against Wright State due to a shoulder injury, but after his outing on Wednesday, Bianco says he’ll be ready to go this weekend.
“I spoke to (Roth) briefly when he came out and told me he felt good,” Bianco said. “I think with the injury he may be a little stiff tomorrow, but that’s to be expected, but nothing that will keep him from throwing this weekend.”
Tulane, who sits at 5-0, will welcome the Rebels after some late-game heroics lifted them over George Washington on Friday and Saturday last week. In the season opener, the Green Wave knocked off the Colonels in the bottom of the ninth, and on Saturday, needed 13 innings to pull off the win.
During the early portion of the season, Tulane has been led offensively by Kody Hoese who is batting .520, has four home runs and nine RBIs.
The Rebels will open the series against the Green Wave at 6:30 p.m. on Friday followed by a 2 p.m. and 1 p.m. first pitch on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.