Orange Invasion

Christian Trent was a little surprised, it seemed, when told Thursday Ole Miss was 4-5 in Southeastern Conference play this time last season. The Rebels went on to finish league play 19-11, win the outright SEC West, and finish second in the overall SEC to Florida.

Mike Bianco, in his 15th season at Ole Miss, said he’ll get back to us later on whether the 7-5 win Tuesday night at Memphis was a turning point for this season. The Rebels are now just over .500 at 15-14 and host Tennessee this weekend in a key SEC series for both teams.

Ole Miss, like this time last season, is 4-5 in SEC action.

The Volunteers come into the weekend 12-13 overall and with a 2-7 league mark, both their conference wins impressively on the road. UT defeated Florida 6-3 in the SEC season opener, then took down Vanderbilt 9-5 in the second game of last weekend’s series.

In between those two road series, Tennessee lost all three games to Georgia in Knoxville. Now the Volunteers are on the road again, this time in Oxford.

On their way here, the Vols won a game at Arkansas State 7-4 Wednesday night.

Back to Trent and Bianco. The Rebels’ ace is focused on the next first game of a series and not what record his team has now or a year ago. It’s the way Trent rolls.

“We were?” Trent collectively asked the media after it was pointed out that last year’s team which made it to the College World Series was also 4-5 at this point in the season.

“That’s right. That’s right,” he continued, after gathering his thoughts on it. “It’s still so early. There’s no need to press. In the SEC anybody can beat anybody. We’ve just got to go out there and play the best game we can. We can certainly come out with a (series) win this weekend and then continue to play strong.”

As for his own play, Trent has suffered the first two losses of his Ole Miss career (last season and this season) two of the last three weekends. The Rebels lost the opener at both LSU and at Arkansas.

Trent went seven innings against the Tigers and allowed six runs, only four earned, on seven hits with three walks and no strikeouts in a 6-4 UM loss. Against the Razorbacks Trent went 5.2 innings with five runs, all earned, on 11 hits with one strikeout and no walks in a 10-3 UA win.

“Everything feels the same,” Trent said. “I honestly thought my stuff was there (against Arkansas). I just got shelled. They were just hitting everything I was throwing.”

But Trent said that was then and this is all about tonight.

“You can’t dwell on any one win or any one loss,” he said. “Just get ready and get focused.”

Trent said he didn’t make the trip to AutoZone Park Tuesday night for the Rebels’ win over the Tigers. A lot of times weekend starters won’t make a midweek road trip since there is no chance they will be used.

“I followed it, and it was good," Trent said. "We went down 3-0 and I thought it was really good for us to battle back and put stuff together. That’s something we’ve been missing this year. It was good to come back and beat a good Memphis team.”

Bianco said calling it a turnaround moment for the season, if that's the case, will only be revealed in the weeks ahead.

“Obviously there were a lot of good things to take away from that game," he said. "People always want to know if this is the turn. Those are questions only answered later in the season, what the impact is and so on. The truth is we played pretty well. We swung it well. We got seven two-out hits, and 13 hits total. We just need to play well in all three phases.

“But it was nice that when we fell behind early, we stayed in the game. We stayed in the game,” Bianco continued. “And then to come back and win against a good Memphis team that I thought played well.”

Scott Weathersby slightly injured his arm Tuesday night when he and an umpire collided briefly on a play. The reports have been Tuesday night and since that he is fine to pitch this weekend.

Trent said the Rebels feel like they can move on in a positive manner from here, basically the halfway point of the overall regular season but only three series down out of ten in the SEC race.

“Our confidence is coming around,” Trent said. “We know we can do it.”

Quoting the Rebels:

* Colby Bortles –

On the win in Memphis: “A good win in that environment, a Triple A park, pretty sweet. Playing well was the best thing for us and getting our confidence back. Gives us good mo-jo going into this weekend.”

On the offense at Memphis (he had 3 of the Rebels’ 13 hits): “I think that’s us. We’ve struggled offensively, but we can hit. We can put up numbers. We proved that in the fall. I think we’re going back to that. Put the ball in play and make their defense work. Get a hit and get the runners in.”

On Tennessee: “I’ve watched Tennessee play a couple of games. They’re good. Hopefully we’ll play good this weekend against them.”

* Errol Robinson –

On this year as opposed to last year – “It’s different. I’m a little older. I have a different role on this team. This year it’s more of a leadership role. We’ve got a lot of young guys. As far as my game goes, I’m just trying to continue to get better.”

On the team being perhaps close to playing to its potential – “We’re having a lot of fun, and we’re in a lot of games. If we’d just capitalize on a few of those opportunities, that would be Ws in our column.”

On moving forward – “Just play baseball. Capitalize on opportunities. Make routine plays on defense, and it should be a good day.”

* Coach Mike Bianco –

On freshman right-handed pitcher Will Stokes – “He pitched more like the Will Stokes we thought he could be (last weekend at Arkansas). A lot of that (a week before against Florida when he wasn’t as effective) I think was our fault. It was his first SEC start. It was a doubleheader. I think we probably didn’t prepare him enough, and he had a tough outing against Florida. (At Arkansas) I thought Will was terrific.”

On Cameron Dishon – “I’m proud of the year he’s had. This year he has done terrific offensively. We knew he would defend. And we knew when he got on base he would be a steal threat, maybe our biggest steal threat, which he’s been. Offensively he had a good weekend for us this past weekend. But not just this past weekend. He might be the most consistent hitter we’ve had in the lineup. He’s a quiet leader. I think everybody on the team really respects him. He plays so hard. He’s a guy that’s kind of waited his turn.”

Probable Pitching Matchups

* Friday, 6:30 P.M.

Tennessee - Kyle Serrano, So., RHP, 2-3, 3.80 ERA

Ole Miss - Christian Trent, Jr., LHP, 4-2, 3.74 ERA

More on Trent:

- Pitched 6.1 innings and allowed one run on three hits to defeat No. 1 Florida, going 4.1 innings without giving up a hit

- Has made 23 career starts, recording 115 strikeouts over 147.2 innings

- Won his first 12 games as a Rebel, the best start to a career by any pitcher in Ole Miss baseball history

- Earned a win against Wright State, striking out nine over six innings and surrendering one run on five hits

- Picked up a victory in the season opener, going 5.0 innings and allowing one run on six hits

- Named to the 50-player preseason Golden Spikes Award watch list

* Saturday, 4:00 P.M.

Tennessee - Bret Marks, Sr., RHP, 3-3, 2.35 ERA

Ole Miss - Brady Bramlett, So., RHP, 4-1, 1.79 ERA

More on Bramlett:

- Ranks fifth in the SEC with a 1.79 ERA and sixth in the conference with 47 strikeouts

- Through his first three career SEC starts, only allowed four earned runs in 18.1 innings

- Pitched a career-high seven innings, without allowing an earned run, at No. 1 LSU

- Went six scoreless innings against the Hatters, giving up just three hits and one walk to go along with his 12 strikeouts

- Only Rebel to record 12 strikeouts in one game as well as double digit strikeouts in two or more starts since Drew Pomeranz in 2010

- Returned to the mound this season after missing the end of the 2013 season and the entire 2014 season due to injury

* Sunday, 1:30 P.M.

Tennessee - Drake Owenby, Jr., LHP, 1-3, 3.31 ERA

Ole Miss – TBA


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