After three weeks of play, the 2019 college baseball season is officially in full swing, which means the competition of midweek matchups for Ole Miss is beginning to ramp up. The Rebels will host games against Little Rock and No. 14 East Carolina on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, with a chance to hit double digits in the win column.
Ole Miss is coming off of a series sweep against the winless Long Beach State Dirtbags last weekend. The series featured late game heroics in games two and three, which should provide plenty of momentum for head coach Mike Bianco and his squad heading into this week.
Little Rock enters Tuesday’s game with a dismal 2-9 record, having lost four of its last five games. On paper, this should be an easy win for the Rebels, but it could also be a trap game if they don’t take the Trojans seriously.
The Trojans currently have three players hitting over .300 on the season, with 10 home runs as a team. For comparison, Ole Miss has six players hitting over .300, with Thomas Dillard and Ryan Olenek sitting with averages above .400. With the Rebels’ struggles with starting pitching so far, the Trojans’ bats could potentially be a problem on Tuesday afternoon.
On the other hand, the problem with Little Rock’s batting lineup is the bottom of the order. Of the 13 players to make a plate appearance for the Trojans this year, six are batting sub-.200. This could prove useful for Ole Miss’s pitching to get in a rhythm. However, so far, nothing is certain from this staff.
The real challenge comes on Wednesday when East Carolina comes to Swayze.
East Carolina arrives in Oxford with a record of 8-4 on the year but has had its share of problems in its last few games. The Pirates are 3-3 in their last six games, with losses to Monmouth, Air Force and Wright State.
Ole Miss opened the season with Wright State a few weeks ago, splitting the series and having the last game canceled because of weather. In the second game, Ole Miss lost 9-5, which is very similar to East Carolina’s 12-4 loss to the Raiders on Saturday.
With the way Ole Miss’s starting pitchers have performed so far, it isn’t farfetched to say that East Carolina is going to have a field day at the plate. East Carolina has seven players batting over .300, including Alec Burleson, who is batting .542 with 11 RBIs. Both Ole Miss and East Carolina’s offenses are producing at a similar rate thus far.
The Pirates seemingly have an advantage on the mound coming into Wednesday’s game. Alec Burleson doubles as the Pirates’ best hitter and best pitcher. He’s the regular Friday starter for East Carolina and has a 3.18 ERA in 17.0 innings pitched.
He’s followed on the mound by Jake Agnos and Tyler Smith, who boast ERAs of 4.02 and 5.74, respectively. The three pitchers have started three games each for a combined 47.4 innings of work and have given up just 4 home runs in that span.
To be fair, East Carolina’s pitching staff hasn’t faced a lineup with the scoring ability of Ole Miss’s, but Ole Miss’s staff hasn’t seen a lineup like East Carolina’s yet, either. It will be interesting to see if Ole Miss’s staff steps up to the moment or crumbles under the pressure.