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Ole Miss baseball can make a statement this weekend against Texas A&M

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Put up or shut up.

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-TCU vs Texas A&M Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 5 Rebels (20-2, 2-1) hit the road again, but this time it is for SEC play. Our sons head West to Texas for a top 15 showdown with the No. 12-ranked Aggies of Texas A&M (18-4, 1-2). This is going to be a true test for Mike Bianco’s club who has yet to truly be tested be a real opponent, if we’re being honest.

Long Beach State was banged up, they weren’t 100 percent, and they got away with a Friday win due to some bonehead mental errors and and bonehead real errors. Then, last weekend, the Rebels imploded once more and gifted a six-run 7th inning to the Vennessee Tolunteers who are very much trash. Now, Ole Miss ended up back-ending those series in impressive fashion, but this weekend may not be as kind.

The Aggies are coming off a disappointing road trip of their own, dropping two to the red-hot Auburn Tigers (who lost to Georgia Tech this week mind you). So one would think they are on the warpath to rectify their conference record and get back to the winning side of things. And if that is going to happen, well something has got to give this weekend at Blue Bell Park.

The Rebels and Painted Overallmen are very similar on paper, both hit .300 as a team, both have scored 159 runs this season, and their team earned run averages are eerily close as well (2.19 for Ole Miss, 2.32 for A&M). All this tells us is that it is probably going to be a huge test for our fellas and a damn good three-game series.

On offense, it starts and ends with Braden Shewmake (.341, 22 RBI, .473 slugging). After him, you’ve got to deal with Michael Helman (.394, 20 RBI, .574 slugging) and Allonte Wingate (.368, .421 slugging, .444 on-base) who are 1-2 on the team in hitting respectively. Logan Foster is the big-bopper (6 HR) and Will Frizzell (.319, 3 HR, .500 slugging) will be a lot to handle as well for Bianco’s staff.

On the mound, Stephen Kolek and Mitchell Kilkenny are known commodities who are as good as advertised. But, John Doxakis is a welcomed surprise for Rob Childress. He is a bit of a hybrid with some crafty lefty off-speed stuff, but will run his fastball up there in the low-to-mid 90’s. Kolek will be a tall task for the opener. He is a legit four-pitch guy who will touch 94 on a good night. And for Saturday’s finale, the Rebs will need to be on their A-game with Kilkenny who can also touch 93-95 and has some quality off-speed stuff, as well as a cutter that will give right-handers fits.

All in all, this is the weekend where the Rebels can make a legitimate statement and stand tall with that No. 5 ranking next to their name. The Aggies went to Omaha last year and return tons of experience from that ball club that will be instrumental for them not only this weekend, but down the stretch this season. This weekend is going to be tough and we will certainly learn a lot about this team’s mental toughness against a veteran Aggie lineup and staff.

Bianco and Co. last won the series in College Station in 2014.

And that was a good year.

The numbers

Complete Ole Miss stats | Complete Texas A&M stats

How to watch

Thursday

First pitch: 6 p.m. CT
TV: SEC Network
Online streaming: SECN+
Game-time weather: 75°, sunny, 0% chance of rain
Projected pitchers
Ole Miss: LHP Ryan Rolison (3-2, 2.37 ERA)
A&M: RHP Stephen Kolek (3-2, 1.50 ERA)

Friday

First pitch: 6 p.m. CT
TV: SEC Network
Online streaming: SECN+
Game-time weather: 78°, partly cloudy, 10% chance of rain
Projected pitchers
Ole Miss: RHP Brady Feigl (5-0, 1.10 ERA)
A&M: LHP John Doxakis (3-0, 1.65 ERA)

Saturday

First pitch: 2 p.m. CT
TV: NONE
Online streaming: SECN+
Game-time weather: 84°, AM clouds, PM sun, 20% chance of rain
Projected pitchers
Ole Miss: RHP James McArthur (3-0, 1.35 ERA)
A&M: RHP Mitchell Kilkenny (5-0, 1.32 ERA)