SEC Home Opener

After sweeping Arkansas State and Memphis in midweek action, No. 12 Ole Miss faces No. 24 Alabama in the Rebels' SEC home opener. Read about it inside.

Winners in 10 of their last 11 games, the No. 12 nationally ranked Ole Miss baseball team meets No. 24 Alabama Friday in the team's SEC home opener.

To open conference play last weekend, the Rebels (13-4, 2-1) took the series against Vanderbilt, while grabbing two more wins in midweek action with victories over Arkansas State and Memphis.

Alabama comes to Oxford with the reputation of being a potent offensive ballclub.

"I know they really hit it," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco of the Crimson Tide. "I know they pitch well enough, but hitting is what makes them go. They've hit 30-something home runs before this week.

"Everybody is talking about our stolen bases, but they probably have more home runs than our stolen bases. That's impressive. They've got a guy who's hit as many home runs as we have as a team."

The Crimson Tide (14-5, 2-1) roll into Oxford following a three-game sweep of Alabama A&M during the midweek and a series win over No. 1 Georgia last weekend to open Southeastern Conference play.

Veteran Alabama head coach Jim Wells is equally impressed with the Rebels.

"They will run out some real good starting pitching and have a real good closer. It is a solid team," Wells said. "It will be a typical SEC road series. They swing the bats very well. They are very aggressive with the bat. Mike (Bianco) has done a great job. They always have a talented team."

LHP Drew Pomeranz will be asked to silence a hot-hitting Alabama squad, who are batting .346 as a team and have belted 39 home runs. Kent Matthes paces the team, claiming 13 round-trippers and a .464 batting average for the season.

Pomeranz is making his fourth appearance of the season and making his second straight Friday night start for the Rebels.

He worked 4.0 innings and took a no decision at Vanderbilt last weekend in a game the Rebels claimed 9-3. Pomeranz has struck out 14 and walked 10 on the season, while allowing only four earned runs in his time on the mound.

"I'm just going to go out there, throw strikes and try and keep my fastball down," Pomeranz said. "I haven't done that very well lately. I struggled with it against Vandy, and they were ripping balls in the gaps. I don't think I'll be able to get away with that this weekend."

RHP Austin Hyatt (4-0, 2.00 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Crimson Tide Friday night.

Ole Miss holds a 16-11 record against the Crimson Tide over the last eight seasons under Bianco, having won five of the eight series played.

The Rebels are 8-4 against the Tide in Oxford during that time and have only lost one series in 2005. Alabama will be the second ranked foe Ole Miss has faced this year, with TCU being the other.

Friday will be the first of a three-game set with Alabama with first pitch slated for 6:30 p.m. Saturday's game is set for 1:30 p.m., while the teams will meet again Sunday at 1:30 p.m.


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