After a disappointing 2-3 week and falling in the polls, the Rebels (16-6, 2-1) bounced back in the midweek, sweeping a not-so-good Arkansas Pine-Bluff team. Now, they will get back in SEC play on the road against the SEC East Missouri Tigers (12-8, 0-3). Steve Bieser’s ball club opened up conference play last weekend against Arkansas and were swept in a low-scoring, pitcher’s duel series.
The good guys come to town sporting a .294 team average and a 3.90 team ERA, which is slowly-but-surely improving from a few weeks ago. Grae Kessinger is starting to show life at the plate, hitting .275 now, the bullpen continues to impress by committee, and Gunnar Hoglund turned in another fantastic performance on Sunday.
Now all they need to do is win a road series (I would prefer a sweep), continue to make strides on the mound with their starters, and before you know it Ole Miss can be back in it again in terms of upper-tier SEC teams in 2019.
How to watch
TV: SEC Network
Friday: 6 p.m. CT
Saturday: 7 p.m. CT
Saturday: 2 p.m. CT
3 things to look for this weekend
Despite an error-filled weekend, this year’s defense shows versatility.
On Tuesday, Mike Bianco shifted his lineup AND defensive alignment around. Anthony Servideo played center field, Tyler Keenan played first base, and Ryan Olenek played third base. The defensive performance against Alabama wasn’t stellar, but the flexibility that Bianco has is certainly comforting.
I believe Servideo should stay in center field. He’s a good enough athlete to learn on the fly and has the most range out of potential suitors up the middle. Olenek played third last year when Keenan went down with a wrist injury and he’s a lifelong infielder already so he is more than capable of handling the hot corner. And moving Keenan to first allows the Rebels to put Cole Zabowski at designated hitter, solving a problem of finding a bat for that spot in the order.
Is Gunnar Hoglund hitting his stride?
After a few outings that weren’t so great, the true freshman has been outstanding in his last two starts. In his last 8.1 innings, Hoglund has scattered six hits, only given up two earned runs, and struck out nine. He was expected to be a weekend starter upon arrival but no one thought he would be lights out. But, I don’t think most thought he would struggle as much as he has in the early-going.
There is still plenty of time for improvement, but it appears that he is well on his way to being a reliable starter on Sunday for Bianco in 2019.
Where oh where is Greer Holston?
The junior from Long Beach, Miss. has been nowhere to be found in 2019. Last season in 24 appearances, Holston tossed 33 innings, struck out 35, and sported a 3.27 ERA. But it was his last few outings and the role he carved out at the back of the bullpen that was huge.
By the end of May, he was a go-to arm for short or long relief and his slider was devastating. But, this season’s been a mystery as he has not yet made an appearance on the bump. Me thinks it is just a bit of a mental war going on and/or a nagging injury that Bianco is letting heal before throwing him out there. Nevertheless, the Rebels need him available now that SEC play is here. He was a reliable force a year ago and is needed again this year on a team that is currently boasting a 4.05 earned run average.