Baseball season is officially in full swing, and, as we track every pitch from every game throughout the season, we can bring coverage from the press box and from right field. Every Monday, we’ll round the bases with four observations from the Rebels’ weekend series.
The Rebels took their first road trip of the season this weekend to compete in the 17th Keith Leclair Classic in North Carolina. The team was on a seven-game win streak going into the weekend and had no problem extending that win streak to 10 in the invitational.
Ole Miss swept the field with a 6-2 win over High Point, a 2-1 victory against No. 17 East Carolina and a 9-5 win over Indiana. Here’s a few reasons the Rebels kept the hot streak alive.
First Base: The confidence from the starters is apparent
There wasn’t any question who would take the mound coming into the season, especially on Friday and Saturday, but there were questions about how the rotation would adjust to their new roles.
Could Doug Nikhazy become the consistent ace after a breakout freshman season? Would Gunnar Hoglund’s mechanics and confidence improve in his sophomore season? Which freshman will stand out for the Sunday role?
The season is still young, and we’ll need to see a few SEC appearances before making any conclusions, but head coach Mike Bianco has to be happy with what his rotation has accomplished so far.
All three starters went at least 5.0 innings and allowed no more than five hits this weekend. Nikhazy and Hoglund each got their second wins while Derek Diamond enjoyed three strikeouts in 5.0 innings.
Second Base: Forsyth emerges as the closer
Production from the bullpen continues to be a question for the Rebels, and the team didn’t appear to have an established closer in the first two weeks of the season.
Bianco seems to trust Braden Forsyth most late in the game as the sophomore got the nod in both save situations over the weekend. Forsyth recorded his third and fourth saves of the season over the weekend, with the other two coming against Louisville and Southern Miss.
He now holds a 1.50 ERA in 6.0 innings and has only been hit five times. Expect to see him late in games when the Rebels are up.
Third Base: Tyler Keenan says hello
Saying Tyler Keenan has had a slow start to the season wouldn’t be completely true, but there’s no doubt that the senior brought it up a notch this weekend.
The Preseason All-American had one home run before the road trip and came back with two first inning home runs, both of which also brought in resident power hitter Anthony Servideo.
Keenan went 5-11 over the weekend and put together four hits on Sunday to lead the Rebels to the victory over a solid Indiana squad.
Home Plate: The Rebels look comfortable on the road
Clark-Leclair Stadium isn’t exactly a perfect simulation of an SEC road environment, but Ole Miss played loose on the road this weekend, which should excite Rebels fans.
However, it is much easier to play loose when things are going your way and the wins keep coming in. This team will lose games, and it will be interesting to see how they respond.
Though this team is hitting homers at a historic rate, they have also struck out 109 times this season, which is a lot. The Rebels must stay composed when the ball is not leaving the park.
The Rebels will return to Swayze Field to take on Memphis on Tuesday and Princeton for a weekend series.