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Ole Miss baseball vs. East Carolina: Online streaming, game times and preview

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Former Rebel coach Cliff Godwin and three All-Americans make their way to Oxford for Opening Weekend.

Josh McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics

Mike Bianco and his club aren’t wasting any time tiptoeing into the shallows of the 2017 season—they’re diving headfirst into a showdown with No. 9 East Carolina, a team coached by former Rebel assistant Cliff Godwin. An integral part of Ole Miss’ 2014 College World Series run, Godwin came just shy of a return trip with the Pirates last season and has already racked up 78 wins in two years as the head coach in Greenville.

ECU returns seven everyday players, two aces on the mound and their entire bullpen from last season. The experienced lineup is led by catcher Travis Watkins, Dwanya Williams-Sutton and Eric Tyler, a trio of seniors who combined to slap 17 dingers and drive in 107 runs last season. On the mound, the starting duo of Evan Kruczynski and Jacob Wolfe promises to pose problems for the Rebel hitters.

This will be a tremendous test for Bianco’s club (which comes into the season ranked No. 23 in the RCR Composite). The atmosphere should be electric and if the weather holds up on Saturday, it should be a fantastic Opening Weekend.

2 big questions

1. How will the freshmen handle the big stage?

Bianco announced that he will start at least three true freshmen on Friday and might start a fourth at first base. Defensively, Thomas Dillard, Grae Kessinger, Cooper Johnson and Cole Zabowski are athletic enough to hold their own, but they’ll be challenged at the plate by Kruczynski and Wolfe.

This is no longer an intrasquad scrimmage. It’s not the Pizza Bowl. These talented youngsters will have their hands full with two All-Americans and a stacked, experienced bullpen. It’ll be interesting to see how they handle the moment.

2. Can Brady Feigl transition from the bullpen to the weekend rotation?

The Human Torch was a key cog for pitching coach Carl Lafferty’s bullpen in 2016. Two years removed from Tommy John surgery, he’ll take over as the Sunday starter this weekend.

Feigl was electric last season because he would come out of the bullpen and go right at hitters. But the mental approach of a reliever and a starter is night and day—he’ll need to be patient and stick to a plan as a starter. Torch will be tested by a senior-laden lineup that hit .289 as a team last season.

The numbers

Complete Ole Miss stats | Complete ECU stats

How to watch

Friday

First pitch: 4 p.m. CT
TV: NONE
Online streaming: WatchESPN.com
Game-time weather: 68°, mostly sunny, 10% chance of rain
Projected pitchers
Ole Miss: LHP David Parkinson (5-3, 2.78 ERA in 2016)
ECU: LHP Evan Kruczynski (8-1, 2.01 ERA in 2016)

Saturday

First pitch: 1:30 p.m. CT
TV: NONE
Online streaming: WatchESPN.com
Game-time weather: 67°, morning showers, 40% chance of rain
Projected pitchers
Ole Miss: RHP James McArthur (6-1, 4.26 ERA in 2016)
ECU: LHP Jacob Wolfe (6-4, 2.95 ERA in 2016)

Sunday

First pitch: 12:00 p.m. CT
TV: NONE
Online streaming: WatchESPN.com
Game-time weather: 77°, sunny, 10% chance of rain
Projected pitchers
Ole Miss: RHP Brady Feigl (4-0, 3.76 ERA in 2016)
ECU: TBA