The Ole Miss baseball team will face off against Arkansas State today after splitting their opening weekend series with Wright State 1-1. That is, if the weather allows.
Ole Miss got off to a lackluster start to the season after dropping a game to Wright State on Saturday before Sunday’s contest was canceled due to rain. With College World Series aspirations abound in Oxford, the slow start out of the gates has caused some to push the pause button.
Opening weekend showed just how critical pitching will be to the Rebels’ success. After losing their top three starters from last year, the Rebels debuted a brand new weekend rotation headlined by junior Will Ethridge. He put together an impressive debut Friday, notching five strikeouts while giving up just four hits and two walks over 5.2 innings.
Saturday was a different story, however, as junior college transfer Zack Phillips was rocked in his debut, giving up five runs on seven hits in only 2.2 innings of work. He was replaced by another junior college transfer, junior Taylor Broadway, who gave up three runs over 0.2 innings.
The biggest disappointment for Rebel fans this weekend may not have been the poor performance on Saturday but the lack of a performance on Sunday. Due to the weather, we will have to wait to see the debut of freshman starter Gunnar Hoglund.
Hoglund, who was drafted in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates last summer, turned down a professional offer to the tune of $2 million in order to play ball for the Rebels.
“Gunnar is a big power right-hander. As many of you know, he turned down the draft … to show up on our campus,” Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. “He’s the big marquee name of that recruiting class that came on campus last fall.”
For Tuesday’s game, junior Houston Roth is expected to start on the mound after narrowly losing the battle for the Sunday starting spot to Hoglund. He may be a late scratch, however, with a lingering injury to his non-throwing shoulder.
“(Roth is) another guy that could’ve started the first weekend,” Bianco said. “(He will probably) start on Tuesday.”
Arkansas State got off to a decent start to their season this past weekend, taking two of their three games against Stephen F. Austin University. The Red Wolves were picked to finish eighth in the Sun Belt Conference’s preseason coaches’ poll and should not be much of a talking point in the national conversation.
They did show some potency in their offense over the weekend, scoring 11 runs on Saturday and seven on Sunday in back-to-back wins. The Rebels will be looking to move above .500 with a win tonight before travelling to New Orleans to play Tulane this weekend.
The Rebels will then return to Oxford for two straight weekends against Long Beach State and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.