Ole Miss baseball finally returns home Wednesday night for a midweek matchup with Arkansas State. After eight straight away games, including four losses, the No. 11 Rebels are hoping to regain some momentum after dropping six spots in the NCAA’s rankings.
Last weekend, Ole Miss dropped a series to Vanderbilt after back-to-back 8-7 losses Sunday. Offensively, the Rebels played well, scoring 25 runs over the three-game stretch. But it was the pitching staff that ultimately cost them the doubleheader.
Brady Feigl got the first start Sunday, allowing four runs in just over five innings pitched. He was later relieved by Parker Caracci and Dallas Woolfolk, who each conceded two runs. Greer Holston closed out the final batters of the abbreviated seven-inning game, but it wasn’t enough. Though right-fielder Ryan Olenek extended his hit streak to 14 games and knocked in two RBIs, the Rebels fell a run short. The Commodores scored two in the eighth inning – the clincher coming from a wild pitch – and sealed the deal without another extra inning.
Quickly shifting their focus to the day’s second contest, the Rebels sent James McArthur to the mound but were quickly overwhelmed. While McArthur threw eight strikeouts through 3.1 innings of work, he also conceded five runs before making way for Will Ethridge. Ethridge did not fare much better, facing nine batters and conceding three runs of his own. Closer Austin Miller held three batters scoreless, but the Rebel bats were unable to rally and ended up dropping their eighth game of the year.
In what was perhaps the game’s high point for the Rebels, Olenek reached base again and extended his hit streak to 15 games. In doing so, he tied slugger Thomas Dillard for the team’s longest streak of the season.
The Rebels are now 29-8 on the year and an impressive 19-2 at home. While seven of those eight losses were in conference play, Ole Miss is still third in the SEC West, behind LSU and Arkansas. Wednesday night’s bout with A-State could provide some much needed momentum ahead of this weekend’s series with No. 19 Georgia.
The Red Wolves have lost eight of their last nine games. Three of those losses – two to Georgia State and another to University of Texas at Arlington – featured nine-run deficits. Overall, Arkansas State sits at 12-20 on the year. In the Sun Belt conference, the Red Wolves have won just four of 15 games.
On Sunday, they fell 11-2 to the UT Arlington Mavericks. Center fielder Drew Tipton went 3-4 on the day, driving in half of Arkansas State’s runs. First basemen Kyle MacDonald drove in the team’s other RBI, capping off a bleak 33 at-bat outing for the Red Wolves.
While the Rebels have not had a problem scoring runs, they will need to limit the Red Wolves’ bats if they hope to escape Wednesday night with a win. Head coach Mike Bianco has a strong corps of starters to choose from but may offer Feigl or McArthur the chance to redeem themselves after poor performances Sunday.
First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday night at Swayze Field. The game will be broadcast on SEC Network.