After last weekend’s ugly series loss to Missouri on the road, the Ole Miss Rebels (18-8, 3-3) are looking to rebound in a big way against the Arkansas Razorbacks (21-4, 5-1) starting Friday at Baum Stadium. But, the rebound is going to come at quite the cost with the Razorbacks entering this weekend’s series ranked in the top 10.
The good guys are really struggling at the plate as of late and the starting pitching is still hit or miss. Last weekend, the Tigers were able to silence the bats on Friday night despite a nice effort from Will Ethridge, and outside of Doug Nikhazy’s performance on Saturday, the weekend was spoiled on Sunday when true freshman Gunnar Hoglund had yet another lackluster start.
Can our heroes get up off the mat and earn a series road victory over Dave Van Horn’s club?
How to watch
TV: ESPNU (Friday), SEC Network (Saturday)
Friday: 8 p.m. CT
Saturday: 3 p.m. CT
Saturday: 1:30 p.m. CT
3 things to look for this weekend
Will Ole Miss win a close one this year?
So far through 26 games this season, of the Rebels’ eight losses, all have come by four runs or less. Seven have come by three runs or fewer. It’s been brutal in the early going, y’all.
So what has to happen? Well for starters, the Rebels have got to stop making errors. Especially in the early part of games. How many times this season has Ole Miss jumped out to an early lead only to relinquesh it because of a booted ball in the infield or an overthrown cut-off man? It has to stop or the leads will continue to disappear.
Will Ethridge continues to dazzle.
Despite the other two starting rotation spots being sporadic as hell, Ethridge has been Steady Eddie. Right now, his 0.71 ERA would be good for 4th in the conference and 10th in the country. Ethridge was outstanding in his first SEC start of the season against the Crimson Tide, tossing 6.0 scoreless innings, scattering three hits, and striking out nine.
Last week, he earned his first loss against Missouri and will be eager to get back in the win column this weekend against an Arkansas team that is hitting at a .295 clip and sports five every day players who hit .300 or better.
Can Doug Nikhazy do it again?
Last week was a doozy. The true freshman damn near threw a no-hitter at Missouri, taking one into the seventh inning before being lifted by Mike Bianco after surrendering two hits. The Windemere, Fla. native became the first true freshman since former Rebel and current San Francisco Giant Drew Pomeranz to throw a shutout in his first career SEC start. Not bad company, huh?
If Ole Miss is going to turn this thing around and win some tough conference series, Nikhazy is going to have to be lights out for Bianco on Saturday. So far, that 2.88 earned run average is looking pretty good.