Diamond Rebels travel to Memphis for midweek match up

Posted on Apr 19 2016 - 7:01am by Brian Scott Rippee
James McArthur pitches during the Ole Miss versus Southern Miss game on Wednesday. Photo By: Taylor Cook

James McArthur pitches during the Ole Miss versus Southern Miss game on Wednesday. Photo By: Taylor Cook

Ole Miss begins a stretch of five games in six days Tuesday at Autozone Park in Memphis where they will play the Tigers for the second time this season. This game was originally scheduled for March 30 but was postponed due to inclement weather.

The Rebels hold a 92-52 advantage in the all-time series, and the two teams have already met once this year — a game that Ole Miss won 9-7. Memphis scored three runs in both the second and the third inning, jumping out to a 6-0 lead before Ole Miss used a seven-run fourth inning to take the lead. Andy Pagnozzi earned the win, pitching 3.2 innings in relief of starter James McArthur.

McArthur will take the ball again in the second matchup for Ole Miss in the first of two midweek games for the Rebels. McArthur had a streak of five consecutive starts won last week as Ole Miss fell to Southern Miss 5-1. McArthur has pitched well this year after overcoming a slow start that stemmed from a foot injury he suffered in the offseason that prevented him from participating in fall and winter practice. McArthur is one of the reasons why Ole Miss is 8-1 in midweek games, and he has a 4-0 record with a 2.05 ERA in his last five outings.

Memphis comes into the game with a record of 13-23 (4-5) and are coming off of a series in which they lost to No. 23 East Carolina at home. The Tigers did manage to salvage the series finale, winning 6-5. They will start freshman right-hander Jonathan Bowlan. He boasts a 1-3 record and a 3.51 ERA in four starts and four relief appearances this season.

After a frustrating weekend at the plate against Alabama, a series in which the Rebels only scored six runs in the three games combined, Ole Miss will try to reverse its fortunes in the batter’s box this week. Bianco shook up the batting order a bit in the series finale in Tuscaloosa, most notably by moving Tate Blackman to the leadoff spot. Blackman has reached base safely in 21 of the last 22 games.

This is an important week for Ole Miss. After these two midweek games against Memphis and Murray State, the Rebels will enter the second half of SEC play with a three-game set against Auburn at home this weekend. For a team that had aspirations of hosting a regional and earning a national seed when conference play began, it will have its work cut out for it as it hits the back end of its SEC schedule. The Rebels currently sit at 7-8 in the SEC. Their RPI is at seven, but they will likely need at least 16 SEC wins to be in any serious hosting conversations at the end of the year. The offense has come and gone, and it still has not sured up the back end of its weekend rotation. 

Ole Miss can’t improve its NCAA tournament resumé this week, but it sure can hurt it if it drops a couple of games this week against teams it should beat.  First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.