Ole Miss men’s basketball opened its SEC season this year at Kentucky. The football team this fall will open its SEC season at Alabama.
So what the heck? The baseball Rebels might as well just go ahead and start their league portion at LSU, the SEC’s perennial powerhouse and six-time national champion who at this moment happens to be ranked No. 1 in the country in at least one poll and in everybody’s top three or four.
Ole Miss fell out of everyone’s poll after losing to Stetson 16-4 Sunday, even after winning the first two games against the Hatters in Oxford.
Then it was on to a Top Ten foe, on the road at Louisville. The Cardinals were in the College World Series last June, as were the Rebels. Ole Miss lost to Louisville 5-3 on Tuesday and bounced back to get a nice RPI win by an 8-3 count on Wednesday.
Tonight at 7, Saturday night at 7, and Sunday at 3, the Rebels get a chance to improve on their 9-7 record and begin conference play on a positive note. But it’s not at a locale Ole Miss has had much success.
The Rebels have not won a series over LSU in baseball in Baton Rouge since 1982.
Still they give it another shot, and they’ll do so with left-handed ace Christian Trent on the hill tonight, who through his Ole Miss career has yet to be saddled with a loss. He was 9-0 last season, and this year is 3-0.
“All my stuff felt great, as good as I have all year,” Trent said after his win against Stetson last weekend. “We’re definitely beginning to put it all together.”
Brady Bramlett has been a strong second-game starter for the Rebels all year. He enters the game Saturday at LSU with a 2-1 record this season.
“I felt good from the start,” Bramlett, the sophomomre right-hander, said after his win last Saturday over Stetson. “I feel confident going in (to the conference season). I think as a staff and as a team we all do. We just want to go out there and compete.”
As for the game three starter, it likely won’t be Sam Smith for the first time this season. The senior righty started the Wednesday game against Louisville. The pitcher for Sunday’s game is actually listed as to be determined by the coaching staff.
“Coach (Mike) Bianco came up to me at practice Monday and said ‘Hey, I want to start you Wednesday. You only threw 50 pitches Sunday, and I want you to get the bad taste out of your mouth and have some success before SEC play.’ I said let’s do it,” Smith said after the game against the Cardinals. “My arm felt good, my body felt good. So I’m glad he started me (Wednesday).”
Smith also liked what he saw from the Rebel offense.
“It was really good to see the bats going. What we’ve been lacking is someone to step up and get that big hit. Today we broke the ice, and if we keep hitting like that this weekend, we’ll have success in Baton Rouge.”
LSU, meanwhile, is rolling along at 16-1 this season. Only a somewhat surprising 6-3 loss to Nicholls State in Baton Rouge is the blemish.
The Tigers, ranked No. 1 in the country by Baseball America, beat McNeese State 7-0 on Wednesday in their only midweek game this week.
As a team, LSU leads the SEC in the hitting, and its team batting average of .322 is the sixth-best in the country. Seven Tigers are batting over a .300 clip, led by a .395 average from senior catcher Kade Scivicque. Fellow senior Connor Hale is the reigning SEC Player of the Week after leading LSU at the Houston College Classic.
On the mound, the LSU pitching staff has the second-best ERA in the conference at 2.00. Two freshmen and a sophomore make up the rotation, while freshman Jesse Stallings lead the nation with seven saves on the year.
LSU – So. LHP Jared Poche’ (4-0, 2.08 ERA, 26.0 IP, 8 BB, 17 SO)
UM – Jr. LHP Christian Trent (3-0, 2.96 ERA, 24.1 IP, 7 BB, 23 SO)
LSU – Fr. RHP Alex Lange (4-0, 1.57 ERA, 23.0 IP, 8 BB, 26 SO)
UM – So. RHP Brady Bramlett (2-1, 2.05 ERA, 22 IP, 3 BB, 34 SO)
LSU – Fr. RHP Jake Godfrey (3-0, 1.69 ERA, 21.1 IP, 11 BB, 11 SO)
UM – TBA
Friday, March 13 – 7 p.m. CT (SEC Network +)
Saturday, March 14 – 7 p.m. CT (SEC Network)
Sunday, March 15 – 3 p.m. CT (SEC Network)
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