Ole Miss and Southern Miss. Meet in Pearl

The strenuous SEC schedule takes a break for the business week, but Coach Mike Bianco's rigorous season slate continues with a Tuesday trip to Trustmark Park in Pearl for a bout with in-state rival No. 29 Southern Miss.

No. 13 Ole Miss (18-8,3-3) and the Golden Eagles (17-8) meet at 7 p.m. for their first of two meetings in 2007. The other game will be April 11 in Hattiesburg. The two team's split last year's season series, while the Rebels hold a 69-41 advantage all-time.

Southern Miss is coming off a week where they lost the backend of a series against No. 7 Rice 2-1. The Conference USA member is 3-1 against common opponents. USM shutout Alabama, defeated New Orleans and split two contests with South Alabama. The Rebels are 4-1 against those teams.

"Southern is a very good club," Bianco said. "They have played a very difficult schedule just like us to this point. Even though their record is good, they are probably better than it shows. Southern has pitched tremendous. They are not hitting as well as they like. But we have known throughout the years that Southern is a great hitting club. This game is always a neat game, playing in a double-A park. It will be a large and emotional crowd."

The Golden Eagles are sending junior Mike Cashion (0-0) to the mound, who is being opposed by left-hander Nathan Baker (2-1).

Cashion underwent Tommy John surgery in 2005 and received a medical red-shirt last season. So far in 2007, the right-hander has a 5.40 ERA after 6.2 innings pitched. Opponents are hitting a lethargic .136 against the Clinton native.

Baker has started five games, posting a 3-1 record with a 2.93 ERA in 30.2 innings pitched. He has struck out 21, walked eight and held opponents to .254 batting average.

The freshman has been a consistent choice as Ole Miss' mid-week starter. He allowed one run in one inning against Alabama on Sunday during his only conference appearance.

"He just didn't throw the ball in the zone as usual," Bianco said. "He had a good fastball, but the location just wasn't there like normal. We tried to put him out there and get him some SEC experience, but it was a tough day Sunday. The entire game was really offensive."

The Golden Eagles are led offensively by junior first baseman Trey Sutton, who is hitting .365 with eight doubles, one triple, one home run, 14 walks and 21 RBI. Sophomore third baseman James Ewing is hitting .318 with three doubles, one home run, 11 walks and 12 RBI.

Sophomore shortstop Brian Dozier is hitting .295 with six doubles and nine RBI and sophomore outfielder Michael Ewing is hitting .289 with three doubles, two home runs, a team-leading 22 walks and 18 RBI.

Ole Miss counters with Justin Henry, who is hitting .450 with five doubles and two triples. He also leads the team with 21 RBI and 14 stolen bases.

Brother Jordan Henry is hitting .374 with two doubles, a home run, a team-leading 12 walks and nine RBI. Andrew Clark is hitting .321 with four doubles, three home runs, 10 walks and 11 RBI.

Cody Overbeck leads the team in home runs with six. All-America selection Zack Cozart has also come on of late with a .307 average and is coming off Sunday where he was 5-5 with a home run.

"It's a rivalry," Justin Henry said. "Everyone on this team wants to go down there and beat Southern Miss. It's big for us because it's always nice to have bragging rights in the state. It is big for both of us. It will be nice to play in front of a big crowd down there in Jackson. The game gives people a chance to see us in another venue. We are going down there to win. It (Trustmark Park) is a really nice field and is always nice to play in those pro parks."

The game will be available on the Ole Miss sports radio network, although satellite radio coverage will not begin until the conclusion of the NCAA basketball tournament.

The Rebels continue conference play this weekend at Auburn. Next weekend, Ole Miss returns to Swayze Field to face Georgia.

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