Ole Miss will try to keep its win streak alive, while Tennessee will try to continue a bit of resurgence itself.
Two teams ranked in the early part of the season fell on hard times during a stretch. But both have shown signs of a revival of their seasons, especially the Rebels.
No. 22 ranked Ole Miss, 27-15 overall and 10-8 in Southeastern Conference play, comes into tonight's 6:30 p.m. on a seven-game win streak that included last weekend's three-game sweep of LSU and that dates back to a Sunday win over South Carolina in Columbia. Also included were three non-conference wins.
Tennessee comes in winning six of its last eight games, including taking two of three from Florida two weeks ago and two of three from Georgia last weekend. On Wednesday the Vols beat UNC-Asheville 9-2. The Volunteers are 25-16 overall and 7-10 in SEC action.
The Vols were one of the eight teams in the College World Series in 2005 and were ranked in the Top 10 in the country in February of this year. They fell on hard times and have begun to climb their way out. Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco says UT will be another tough SEC challenge for his surging Rebs.
"They're very good and underrated in a lot of people's eyes," he said. "They were highly ranked and then had a tough couple of weeks like we all do at some part of the season. But they've been playing well of late, and certainly it's a big weekend for them too. If they win a couple of games, they'll certainly feel like they're back in the mix. And that's how it is in this league."
Tennessee stands in fourth place in the SEC Eastern Division with a record of 25-16 (7-10 SEC). The Vols have won six of their last eight games overall, and are batting .301 as a team with a staff ERA of 3.77. Sophomore centerfielder Julio Borbon is batting a team-best .382 with 66 hits on the year. Catcher J.P. Arencibia paces the club with 34 RBIs, including 16 in SEC play. Senior first baseman Chris Kemp has raised his average to .331 and has collected three hits in each of UT's last two games.
The Vols sport a 6-7 record on the road this year and are 3-5 in SEC road games. Tennessee has come from behind to win 15 games this season and is 15-1 in contests in which its opponents score three runs or less.
This weekend's pitching matchups feature Vols junior Craig Cobb (7-1, 2.43 ERA) against Rebels lefty Craig Rodriguez (2-1, 3.75 ERA) Friday night. On Saturday, preseason All-America left-hander James Adkins (6-4, 3.63 ERA) starts for UT opposite Ole Miss left-hander Brett Bukvich (4-3, 2.50 ERA) Freshman right-hander Josh Lindblom (4-4, 4.25 ERA) takes the mound for Tennessee in Sunday's series-finale, while the Rebels send fellow freshman right-hander Lance Lynn (4-2, 4.91 ERA) to the hill.
Tennessee trails the all-time series with Ole Miss 29-30-1, dating to 1907. The Vols have dropped seven of their last nine games against the Rebels and have just one series win in the last four.
In its last game, Ole Miss got 14 hits on the afternoon as the Rebels pushed past Louisiana-Monroe 12-6 on Wednesday. Logan Power and Alex Presley both went 3-for-5 on the day to lead Ole Miss at the plate. Jesse Simpson (Fr., RHP) picked up his first win of the season with an inning of work in relief. Garrett White picked up his fifth save of the season in his 19th appearance on the mound.
Rebs host Vols in another key SEC series
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