Rebs head to Minnesota for indoor baseball

MINNEAPOLIS - Ole Miss will move away from the friendly Swayze Field confines this weekend as it plays in the annual Dairy Queen Classic.

The tourney opener Friday against SEC West foe Arkansas highlights the trip that also includes a Saturday affair against the home-standing Golden Gophers and a Sunday matinee against The Citadel.

The Rebels enter the event 7-3 after a mid-week win against Belmont on Tuesday. Head coach Mike Bianco is looking forward to the trip as a way to change the scenery and shake off the slow start that has been attributed to a lackluster offense especially over the last week.

"I just think we haven't played that well," Bianco said. "And I like the fact that we are getting away. The crowds here (Oxford) have been great, but there is a certain excitement that should be there by getting to play in a MLB park against three quality teams in a foreign environment. Clubs find themselves on the road, and I think we will get some improved chemistry up there."

The 12:15 p.m. Friday matchup has been billed since the schedule was released as a premier pre-conference pitching duel between aces Will Kline and Nick Schmidt. However, No. 5 Arkansas (7-3) is penciling in Schmidt for its Sunday contest against Minnesota and throwing right-hander Shaun Seibert against Ole Miss. Kline will start for the Rebels against the Hogs.

Ole Miss' final two games on the weekend are against lesser-known teams, but each has impressive wins already under its respective belts. Minnesota meets the Rebels at 6:35 on Saturday and sports a 3-0 record for the first time since 1998. The Golden Gophers have defeated UNC-Asheville, The Citadel and ACC-member Virginia Tech.

A familiar face will be across the field on Sunday at 11 a.m. when the Rebels encounter the Bulldogs. Former Ole Miss assistant coach Stuart Lake now holds a position as hitting coach and recruiting coordinator with The Citadel.

The Bulldogs are 6-4 on the season but made noise on Feb. 18 when they knocked off then No. 1 South Carolina 7-6.

"Everyone talks about the matchup against Arkansas as the big thing, but you can't overlook any of these clubs," Bianco said. "We play the Mayor's Trophy every year so playing an SEC team is more media hype than anything else. In baseball, you just take the field and try to win the game. Hopefully, this schedule prepares us for conference play. There aren't any givens on the schedule and especially not this weekend."

Ole Miss will be the eighth SEC team to take part in a tournament at the Metrodome as they join Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, LSU, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Tennessee. This is the Razorbacks' third trip to the frigid venue. They traveled in 1993 and 2001, losing two of three each time.

The Rebels are making their first trip, but it isn't the first time for Bianco.

"It was like 1995 or so, and I was an assistant at LSU," he said. "I think it was LSU, Michigan, Florida State and Minnesota. It's a good trip, and we're looking forward to it.

"Eating team meals and being in a hotel can really unite the guys. It is a great venue and the new experiences should be a very positive and pleasant thing for the team."


12:15 Ole Miss vs. Arkansas

Shaun Seibert, RHP (0-1, 6.30 ERA) vs. Will Kline, RHP (2-0, 2.25 ERA)

6:35 Minnesota vs. The Citadel


12 p.m. Arkansas vs. The Citadel

6:35 p.m. Ole Miss vs. Minnesota

Dustin Brabender, RHP (6-5, 3.96 ERA in 2006) vs. Lance Lynn, RHP (1-2, 1.69 ERA)


11 a.m. Ole Miss vs. The Citadel

(TBA) vs. Brett Bukvich, LHP (1-1, 3.07 ERA)

3:05 p.m. Arkansas vs. Minnesota

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