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Ole Miss baseball vs. FIU: Preview, game times and online streaming for Opening Weekend

Right Field at Swayze reopens this weekend for a three-game tilt with Florida International. Here's what you need to know.

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Well folks, we did it. We made it through the barren wasteland between the end of football season and the beginning of baseball season. (Were there some basketball games? There might have been some basketball games.) At 4 p.m. CT on Friday, the Diamond Rebs will officially get the 2016 season underway with a three-game home stand against FIU. Fill your cooler and plunk down in a folding chair, folks.

The last time Ole Miss played this team, they outscored them 27-13 during a 2013 three-game sweep. It might not be that easy this time around. This is a club that, despite going 30-31 during the regular season last year, won the Conference USA title to earn a regional draw. With most of its pitching from that run back in 2016, D1 Baseball picks the Panthers to finish fourth in C-USA. D1 has Ole Miss just outside the top 25 (Baseball America has them No. 24) and projects the Rebs as a regional three-seed in the field of 64.

3 big questions

1. Are these new starting pitchers any good?

We know what we have in Brady Bramlett, but the new Saturday and Sunday bros have exactly nine pitches-worth of D1 experience between them. All nine of those came from Sean Johnson, who made it one inning into the 2015 season before being shelved for Tommy John surgery. He's admitted that he doesn't have his full velocity back yet and, per The Clarion-Ledger, will be working with an 85-90 pitch count during his Sunday start.

The Saturday starter is a new name altogether: Chad Smith. Limited by injuries of his own last season, the JUCO transfer put up an uninspiring 3.60 ERA in 10 appearances for Wallace State in the Alabama Community College Conference. Don't let that number get you bummed, though: this is a guy who went in the 23rd round of the MLB Draft, so the potential is certainly there.

2. Will experienced hitting beat experienced pitching?

What experience Ole Miss lacks on the mound it makes up for in the field: seven starting position players are back from last season. This lineup wasn't particularly potent in 2016, mind you (.248 in conference play), but has the potential to be one of the SEC's best if guys like Colby Bortles, J.B. Woodman and Tate Blackman reach their potential.

It should be a telling matchup against an experienced FIU rotation that returns all three starters from last year's tournament run, though Saturday guy Cody Crouse has been relegated to a midweek role to start the season as he battles back from an elbow injury. Andres Nunez took over as the Friday starter late last season and went 2-1 with a 3.67 ERA before running into Miami in the NCAA Tourney. Saturday starter Chris Mourelle was the C-USA Freshman of the Year in 2014 and was the most consistent guy in the rotation as a sophomore (don't be fooled by his 7-7 record -- his offense averaged one run per game in his seven losses). Sunday starter Garrett Cave, who's filling in for Crouse, is the biggest question mark. He went 5-6 as a freshman in 2015 but can touch 98 with his fastball and, according to head coach Turtle Thomas (yes, that's his name), has "the most dominant stuff" on the team.

3. Who can replace Sike's 'stache?

Never mind the 16 dingers, 53 RBI and .587 slugging percentage -- Orvis' biggest contribution to this team was his Ron Swanson lipholstery.

Throw in Evan Anderson's transfer and this club really needs someone to step up in the mustache department. Fortunately, Bianco made it a point to bring in some face foliage in this latest crootin class.

baseball mustaches

The numbers

Complete Ole Miss statsComplete FIU stats

Team pitching in 2015
Ole Miss FIU
ERA 4.59 3.89
Strikeouts 402 436
Walks 163 266
Opponent average .269 .250
Team batting in 2015
Ole Miss FIU
Runs per game 5.1 6.0
Batting average .265 .277
On-base % .359 .358
Slugging % .376 .391
Dingers 36 48
Steals-Attempts 52-78 34-59

How to watch


First pitch: 4 p.m. CT
TV: SEC Network PLUS
Online streaming:
Game-time weather: 69° (nice), sunny, 0% chance of rain
Projected pitchers
Ole Miss: RHP Brady Bramlett (7-4, 3.74 ERA in 2015)
FIU: RHP Andres Nunez (6-6, 3.99 ERA in 2015)


First pitch: 1:30 p.m. CT
TV: SEC Network PLUS
Online streaming:
Game-time weather: 64°, cloudy, 16% chance of rain
Projected pitchers
Ole Miss: RHP Chad Smith (first D1 start)
FIU: RHP Chris Mourelle (7-7, 3.07 ERA in 2015)


First pitch: noon CT
TV: SEC Network PLUS
Online streaming:
Game-time weather: 66°, cloudy, 50% chance of rain
Projected pitchers
Ole Miss: RHP Sean Johnson (missed 2015 with injury)
FIU: RHP Garrett Cave (0-1, 5.06 ERA in 2015)