Mike Bianco (Josh McCoy)

Five Things to Look For as Ole Miss Aims to Even Series With Missouri

Ole Miss missed out on a golden opportunity to take game one of this series after Missouri ace Tanner Houck was scratched after a brief rain delay.

Here are five things to watch today as Ole Miss tries to even this series at a game apiece

1. Who will pitch for Missouri? - It appeared that Ole Miss caught a break when Houck was scratched last night, but Cole Bartlett proceeded to toss a complete game and stifle the Rebels. Nothing has been announced yet, but one would think Houck will get the nod today barring any weather delays. Last night was only a 40 minute delay, but it was enough to make Houck feel uneasy about pitching. The Rebels will have their hands full to say the least if he does. A mid to upper 90's fastball with a wipeout slider and a change up will not be easy to swing at. Ole Miss desperately needs to win this game today, and who is on the mound for the Tigers will drastically affect their odds doing so.

2. The timely hit - Ole Miss actually mustered ten hits in this game, but outside of three in the first inning, most were harmless. All ten hits were singles, while Missouri's seven hits did more damage with a couple of home runs and a double. The timely hit is something this team has struggled with, and will need to find a couple today or it will be staring 7-10 in the SEC straight in the face.

3. Two catchers? - Missouri runs a lot on the base paths. It prompted Mike Bianco to stick Cooper Johnson behind the plate to combat that and slide Nick Fortes to first base to keep his bat in the lineup. It worked on one front. The Tiger running game was neutralized, but it also had its issues. Fortes botched a routine ground ball that led to the flood gates opening in the eighth. It was a 4-2 game at the time, and Fortes' two out error made it 5-2. That became 7-2 a couple of batters later. First base defense has been bad, and Bianco is trying to solve it, but has yet to find a solution. This two-position rotation is something to keep an eye on today.

4. The bullpen - Perhaps, Ole Miss' greatest asset this season faltered last night. Bianco said after the game that he felt like the bullpen failed James McArthur, who left in a 3-2 game. Will Stokes struggled to find the strike zone, and Brady Feigl wasn't exactly sharp behind him. The Rebels will need their bullpen to be good today, especially if Houck starts, because that would point to a close, low-scoring game if Ole Miss is in the game at all.

5. David Parkinson - The junior lefty has anchored this team all year. He crafted a gem last week in Baton Rouge when Ole Miss needed it, and finds himself in a similar spot today. He's the most consistent guy in the rotation, has the most experience, and will give the Rebels a chance to win today. What they do with that chance remains to be seen.

First pitch is at 4 p.m. 


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