Mike Bianco (Josh McCoy)

Five Things to Watch as Ole Miss Looks to Even the Series with LSU

Ole Miss will attempt to even the series in Baton Rouge tonight after being on the receiving end of a 15-2 blistering in game one on Thursday.

Here are five things to look for tonight in game two: 

1. Jared Poche- LSU's senior lefty falls squarely under the cliched "bulldog" term. He doesn't have overwhelming stuff. He'll sit 86-90 with his fastball and is effective with a four-pitch mix that includes a curveball, slider and change up. Poche's a grizzled veteran and knows how to win baseball games. He got off to a scorching start to begin the year that included a no hitter in his first start, and then nearly followed it up with another one his next time out. But he has since come down to earth a bit, and Arkansas chased him before he finished the fourth inning in his last start. 

He's not the power arm that the Rebels saw in Alex Lange last night. Ole Miss faced Poche a year ago, and chased him from the game after four innings in which he was touched up for four runs on eight hits.

Again, Poche is a guy that's not going to blow it by you, but can be extremely difficult to chase from a game. 

2. Hitter's counts- Alex Lange dominated Ole Miss last night, and it was largely due to the fact that he was ahead in nearly every count. Which allowed him to keep the Rebels off balance with that wipeout breaking ball and his fastball. This was one of the first things that Mike Bianco mentioned in his postgame presser last night, and something that Ole Miss will need to do a lot better at if it wishes to have a prayer at evening up the series tonight. On the flip side of things, James McArthur got behind in the count a pretty decent bit due to sporadic command, and LSU teed off on him as a result. 

3. Bortles to first base? - Mike Bianco continues to subtly tweak his lineup in attempt to pack in some more offense, and lately the tinkering has been with Colby Bortles going to first base with Kyle Watson getting a crack at third. Bortles made three incredible plays on a ground ball and two pop ups in foul ground last night. Seriously, it would be hard to undersell the two pop ups in which he slid and into a wall and held onto the ball. His athleticism is no secret and he flashed it at first base last night. Unfortunately, things didn't go as well for his replacement at third. Watson made a couple of good charging plays on bunts, but was charged with an error later in the game that aided in the score spiraling out of control. Whether Bortles stays at first or goes back to third is something to keep an eye on because it would likely squeeze Watson out of the lineup and open the door for Cole Zabowski or Chase Cockrell to get time at first. 

Note: Zabowski launched a towering two-out double off the wall in the ninth last night in the baseball version of mop up time. It's likely not something to read too much into, but certainly worth pointing out. 

4. Can Parkinson bring stability early? - If we're being honest, Ole Miss wan't really in that game last night after the third inning. LSU picked at McArthur for a run in each of the first four frames, and threatened to score more. But with Lange on the mound last night, that likely wouldn't have been an uphill battle that the Rebels would have won anyway. LSU's first scoreless inning came in the eighth last night,  and of course the game was well out of reach at the point. This is again stating the obvious, but Parkinson would do well to toss up a couple of early zeroes tonight so this team can at least get its feet underneath it, because it was in a hole from the beginning last night, which is not ideal, especially in Alex Box Stadium.

5. How will this team respond- Ole Miss walked off of the field after its postgame meeting last night dead silent. Seriously, not a word was uttered and there was an expression of stinging anger on most of their faces. How quickly will they throw that 15-2 demoralizing loss in the trash and rebound? A 2-2 week is still very possible, and if Ole Miss manages to win tonight, it'll have more than a puncher's chance to steal the series on Sunday. It will be interesting to see how this team responds in the second game today. 


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