Baseball Preview: Ole Miss Rebels host UCF Knights in a Weekend Series

It was a wild week of baseball in Oxford; let's hope the weekend is more of the same.

[ED: Fit4LifeLLC's at it again, y'all. Thanks for the data mining, bro. I owe you about a hundred beers at this point.]

At 6-2, the Central Florida Knights seem like a strong-enough out of conference opponent out of the Zombie Big East C-USA Redux American Athletic Conference for the Rebels this weekend. They have a handful of impressive wins, with unsurprising losses popped in there thus far on what is an admittedly young season.

UCF series

They began the year with a sweep of Siena at home before losing to Florida 5-1 in a midweek matchup. They then hosted the UCF Tournament (our invitation must've gotten lost in the mail) where they lost to Ohio State before beating Oklahoma and the Citadel. They then beat Jacksonville U in their most recent midweek matchup, and will now travel to Oxford to face our Rebels.

The Knights on paper do not have eye popping stats but are averaging over 6 runs per game. They've got a few lively bats which should serve them well even against SEC pitching.

UCF Individual Hitting Statistics

Name

Avg

HR

RBI

SLG%

OBP%

SB/ATT

SO/BB

Derrick Salberg

.382

0

4

.412

.462

2/2/

7/3/

James Vasquez

.321

0

7

.357

.457

0/0

3/5/

Tommy Williams

.306

2

6

.528

.342

2/2/

9/2/

Sam Tolleson

.294

0

4

.294

.333

0/0

2/0

Dylan Moore

.273

0

3

.303

.385

3/4/

5/3/

UCF Team Statistics

Average

HR

RBI

OBP%

SLG%

SB/ATT

SO/BB

.272

4

43

.364

,362

9/11/

56/29

So Salberg, Vasquez, and Williams really seem to be carrying an offense that is, on paper, kinda blah, even by NCAA standards.

The Rebels come into the weekend after a pair of comeback wins in the 9th over ULM. One thing is apparent with the Rebs this season is there does seem to be a more concerted effort to be more aggressive at the plate and this team has maybe as much speed as any we have seen in Oxford.  Through 9 games, the Rebels are stealing bases at a 78% success rate, going 18 for 23 attempts and striking out 52 times compared to 35 walks. "Toughness," is what Mike Bianco calls it, and it'll take a bit of that and then some if the Rebs are to keep their winning ways alive this weekend.

Ole Miss Individual Hitting Statistics

Name

Avg

HR

RBI

SLG%

OBP%

SB/ATT

SO/BB

Sikes Orvis

387

2

6

645

472

0/0

7/5/

Austin Bousfield

378

2

9

649

452

4/4/

3/4/

Will Allen

378

2

14

595

385

0/0

4/1/

Colby Bortles

353

0

1

529

421

0/0

4/1/

Errol Robinson

348

0

1

391

483

2/2/

1/3/

Ole Miss Team Stats

Avg

HR

RBI

SLG%

OBP%

SB/ATT

SO/BB

.333

9

49

.479

.416

18/23

52/35

Yes, it's only the third week of the season, but the Rebel batting average is tops in the SEC right now. I'm totally serious. Like we've alluded to for a while now, this team's simply more aggressive than Bianco teams of the past. Hopefully it translates into more wins, but even if it just means looking good against average OOC competition, it's fun.

On the bump, UCF has, uh, guys with arms?


APP W/L ERA SO BB OPP AVG SV
Erik Skoglund, LHP 2 1-0 1.93 9 5 .191 0
Spencer Davis, RHP 2 2-0 1.54 8 4 .182 0
Zach Rogers, RHP 3 1-0

0.87

6 0 .225 0
Robbie Howell, RHP 2 0-0 6.14 3 4 .345 0
Parker Thomas, LHP 4 1-1 5.68 6 8 .200 0

I'm not really sure what to make of the Knights pitching, and neither can they it seems. Skoglund and Davis are listed as the Knight's Friday and Saturday starters respectively, but their Sunday starter listed as TBD (taking notes from Mike Bianco, I see). We are guessing, solely based on number of appearances thus far, that we'll see either Zach Rogers or Robbie Howell in that spot. But your guess is as good as ours.

Lefty Parker Thomas has struggled a bit over several outings, and Zac Favre, Tyler Martin, and Trent Thompson have each notched a save out of the bullpen, but, again, what they toss at us aside from Skoglund and Davis is a big unknown. That's not a good thing for the Knights, by the way, at least not reasonably so. If they had tested guys on Sunday and out of the pen, you'd think the scouting report would tell us as much, or that we'd be able to glean that out of the numbers, even during such a young season.

It ain't broke, so the Rebs aren't going to try to fix it. Bianco's trotting out Chris Ellis, Christian Trent, and Sam Smith this weekend. Ellis is coming off of a complete game shutout of Georgia State, and has struck out eight batters while walking just two. Trent has tallied an impressive 12 strikeouts and zero walks over his two starts (to boot, opponents are batting a paltry .140 against him). Smith has, surprisingly, been better than serviceable thus far, allowing just three runs on the season.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday game times are 6:30 PM, 1:30 PM, and Noon, respectively. Games can be caught on RebelVision or on any of the Ole Miss Baseball radio affiliates.

See y'all at Swayze. Hotty Toddy!

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