The Ole Miss Rebels baseball team, currently 26-12 on the season, will travel to Auburn, Alabama, tonight to face the Auburn Tigers after defeating Memphis 5-2 on Tuesday.
Since falling to the unranked Kentucky Wildcats, the Rebels have dropped from No. 11 to No. 15 in the DI Baseball top 25. Similarly, the then-No. 19 Tigers lost their series against the then-No. 10 Texas A&M Aggies and have fallen out of the top 25. The Rebels have swept the Tigers twice in their last three meetings and are looking to do the same this weekend.
So far this season, the Rebels have performed exceptionally well at the plate, with players
ranked in nearly every offensive category in the SEC.
Shortstop Grae Kessinger has been a dominant hitter in the Rebel lineup in the past few weeks. Kessinger currently leads the Rebels with 28 hits and ranks second with a .452 batting average and .514 on-base percentage in conference play. The junior from Oxford is also ranked in the top 5 with 8 doubles and 17 RBIs.
The only things that have slowed down the Rebel bats this season have been left-handed pitchers. The Rebel batters will have their work cut out for them this weekend, as Auburn pitcher Jack Owen, who has been sidelined most of the season because of an injury, is set to return to the mound for this weekend’s series. The former SEC Pitcher of the Week is 3-0 on the season with an ERA of just 0.31 in four games.
The Rebels are likely to have more luck against Auburn’s ace, Tanner Burns. The sophomore has assumed the role of Casey Mize, who went first overall in the 2018 MLB Draft to the Detroit Tigers.
Last year, the Rebels were able to plate 3 runs and chase Burns off the mound after only 1.2 innings. This season, Burns is 4-1 with a 2.05 ERA.
Junior Will Ethridge will take the mound for the Rebels in the opening game of the series tonight. Last weekend, Ethridge had an outstanding outing against the Kentucky Wildcats, striking out 11 batters in 7.0 innings of work. He is currently 5-2 on the season with an impressive 1.76 ERA.
Freshman Doug Nikhazy is expected start Friday for the Rebels. Despite having one of his worst outings as a weekend starter last weekend, the former SEC Freshman of the Week is 3-3 on the season and has a 3.57 ERA.
Gunnar Hoglund will likely finish the weekend on the mound. Despite giving up a 3-run home run to the Wildcats last weekend, the freshman shows a great deal of promise on the mound, having struck out 28 batters in 31.1 innings of work.
The series will start tonight at 6 p.m. at Plainsman Park and will continue on Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m. and 1 p.m., respectively.