Rebels return home to face Indians

Ole Miss (21-9) has won two straight SEC series but faces a regional non-conference opponent Tuesday when Arkansas State (11-18) invades Oxford for a 6:30 p.m. first pitch.

The No. 10 Rebels routed the Indians 14-1 at Jonesboro, Ark., on March 13 and lead the overall series 66-21.

"Arkansas State has always played us great," head coach Mike Bianco said. "Regardless of their record, they will come and play us well. It is a baseball game, and we have to play well."

Ole Miss will start sophomore Brett Bukvich (3-1), who had been a weekend starter until last Sunday when fellow left-hander Craig Rodriguez replaced him. Bukvich last took the hill a week ago with a scoreless inning of relief during the victory over Southern Mississippi.

"He hasn't thrown a lot of innings lately," Bianco said. "He needs more innings, and I want to see Nathan (Baker) out of the bullpen."

The Indians will counter with first-time starter Zach Skaggs (0-0). The freshman has four appearances on the year where he worked a total of 12 innings. Skaggs has allowed seven earned runs on 15 hits.

ASU is led offensively by preseason All-American Josh Yates, but the team leader in batting average at .386 is out indefinitely after undergoing an emergency appendectomy.

The Indians broke a five-game losing streak when they defeated Florida Atlantic on Sunday. Ole Miss is the only SEC opponent on ASU's schedule, and the Indians are 2-4 against common opponents so far this season, while the Rebels are 3-0.

The Rebels continue to be led by the Henry brothers at the dish. Junior Justin has a team-high batting average of .437, while freshman Jordan Henry is right behind at .349. Ole Miss is hitting .312 as a team and is staying just under three with a 2.94 team ERA.

"It is a big game for us," Justin Henry said. "Midweek games are always big. We need to win it to have momentum headed into a big weekend."

Arkansas State is coached by Keith Kessinger, who previously played and coached for Ole Miss. Kessigner was an All-SEC shortstop before graduating in 1989 and served as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for four years before Mike Bianco became head coach.

The game is available on the entire Ole Miss Radio Network.

Ole Miss continues its homestand with a weekend series against Georgia beginning Friday.

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