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Ole Miss baseball vs. Kentucky: Online streaming, TV info and preview

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The Rebs get started early this week with a Thursday-Saturday series in Lexington.

Josh McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics

The No. 14 Rebels (14-7, 2-1) just completed a big-time series win over an extremely talented Vanderbilt squad at home last weekend. It was a series win that saw a struggling offense go toe-to-toe with one of the more talented pitching staffs in the country and come out on top. Then, Tuesday happened. Ole Miss regressed back into it’s proverbial non-offensive shell in a 2-1 extra innings loss to Memphis at AutoZone Park. Now, they must hit the road and deal with the No. 19 Kentucky Wildcats (16-6, 3-0) who are coming off an impressive sweep of Texas A&M.

Kentucky parted ways with their former coach, Gary Henderson, and hired former Mississippi State assistant Nick Mingione. After enjoying several mediocre years under Henderson, Mingione’s Cats have a different way about them so far this season. They’re a well-balanced squad that hits it (.328 team average) and pitches it well (2.79 team ERA). They return all three weekend arms and several bats who can produce in multiple ways at the dish.

The Cats have six every day players hitting over .300, led by junior infielder Luke Becker (.373, 18 RBI, .507 OBP), senior outfielder Marcus Carson (.371, 2 HR, 19 RBI) and senior outfielder Zach Reks (.370, 17 RBI, .519 slugging). Heck, the worst hitter in their every day lineup by average, senior infielder Connor Heady, leads them in dingers (5). The three-headed pitching monster of Sean Hjelle, Zach Logue and Justin Lewis are all going to sit comfortably in the low-to-mid 90’s and challenge an Ole Miss lineup that barely has a pulse right now. This is going to be an interesting weekend for sure.

2 big questions

1. Can Ole Miss take advantage of Kentucky’s short porch?

Cliff Hagan Stadium is famous for it’s namesake and for it’s cracker jack box dimensions. The Wildcats’ generous right field line—which extends just 310 feet—has been something that has helped them throughout the years and has been something that they recruit to. Remember when former Wildcat and current Houston Astro A.J. Reed slapped 23 home runs in 2014?

The Rebels have had their struggles stringing together hits over the last few weeks, but they’ve continued to send balls out of the park. Freshmen Thomas Dillard and Cole Zabowski have combined for four dingers already and Tim Rowe has shown some real pop from the left side. And it’s not just the lefties: Michael Fitzsimmons, Tate Blackman and Colby Bortles have all shown the ability to take it the other way with power. For an offense that is in the gutter, this could be an equalizer this weekend.

2. How long can the bullpen keep this team on track?

Ole Miss ranks dead last in the conference in batting average but, in the ultimate Jekyl and Hyde scenario, the pitching staff ERA is tops in the league. That’s thanks in large part to a filthy bullpen that’s put together a ridiculous campaign thus far.

The Rebels’ top eight relievers share a 1.81 ERA and five of them have individual ERAs under 3.00. Dallas Woolfolk leads the SEC in saves, Will Stokes is tied for second. And true freshman Ryan Rolison looks to be a lethal lefty out of the pen who can shut people down. It will definitely need to keep up while the offense is still trying to find itself or this year could spiral in a hurry.

The numbers

Complete Ole Miss stats | Complete Kentucky stats

How to watch

Thursday

First pitch: 6 p.m. CT
TV: SEC Network
Online streaming: WatchESPN.com
Projected pitchers
Ole Miss: RHP James McArthur (0-1, 1.76 ERA)
UK: RHP Sean Hjelle (3-1, 5.99 ERA)

Friday

First pitch: 5:30 p.m. CT
TV: none
Online streaming: WatchESPN.com
Projected pitchers
Ole Miss: LHP David Parkinson (4-1, 2.03 ERA)
UK: LHP Zach Logue (3-1, 2.43 ERA)

Saturday

First pitch: 11 a.m. CT
TV: SEC Network
Online streaming: WatchESPN.com
Projected pitchers
Ole Miss: TBA
UK: RHP Justin Lewis (3-1, 3.07 ERA)