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No. 17 Diamond Rebels clash with Golden Eagles in midweek rivalry game

Alex Edwards/The Daily Mississippian


The No. 17 Ole Miss baseball team (15-5, 1-2 SEC) welcome the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles (11-9) to Oxford today for an in-state showdown at 6:30 p.m. from Oxford-University Stadium/ Swayze Field. The Rebels opened Southeastern Conference play this past weekend, dropping the three-game set against Auburn. Southern Miss enters tonight’s game, losing three of their last four games, including a series loss to Murray State this past weekend. The Golden Eagles are 2-1 against SEC foes this season, splitting a home-and-home series against Alabama and winning at Auburn.

Last season, Ole Miss and Southern Miss met twice with the Golden Eagles taking both games in extra innings. In Hattiesburg, Southern Miss won 4-3 in 10 innings, and the Golden Eagles completed the season sweep with an 8-6 win in 12 innings at Trustmark Park in Pearl. The two teams will meet later this season in their annual contest at Trustmark Park on April 3.

As a team, Southern Miss is hitting .287, led by freshman outfielder Mason Robbins with a .444 batting average to go along with two home runs and 15 RBI. The Golden Eagles are averaging 5.95 runs per game this season, while the Rebels are hitting .316 and score an average of 7.7 run per game.

On the hill for the Rebels will be freshman right-hander Sam Smith (1-1), who will make his fifth start – and sixth appearnace – of the season. Smith holds a 4.05 era, giving up nine earned runs in 20.0 innings pitched with 16 strikeouts and just three walks. Sophomore right-hander Boomer Scarborough, who started both games against Ole Miss this past season, gets the call for Southern Miss. In those two starts, Scarborough allowed a combined five runs on 13 hits in 12.0 innings pitched with six walks and five strikeouts. This season, Scarborough holds a 1-0 record with a 1.83 ERA in 19.2 innings pitched with 13 walks and 13 strikeouts.

Chavez remains confident

Junior left-hander Dylan Chavez came to Ole Miss from American River Community College with the hopes of being a steady arm for Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco. So far this season, that is exactly what Chavez has done.

“I feel good; I feel confident when I take the mound,” Chavez said. “I feel good with the team behind me. We have a great defense. I just try to pound the zone because we have guys that can play. It really makes it easier on us as pitchers.”

The 6-3, 190 pounder holds a 1-0 record with a 2.70 ERA in 13.1 innings pitched over nine appearances. In those innings, Chavez has struck out 14 batters compared to just one walk, while opponents are hitting just .191 against him.

“Coach trusts me in tough situations,” he said. “It’s up to me to come through and be big for this team. When I can come out and throw strikes and get outs, I think I can really help us win.”

Helping out any way he can

Sophomore Preston Overbey has proved he can contribute in a number of ways for this year’s team. Overbey, who played right field in two games this past weekend, has also played third base, first base, catcher and designated hitter this season.

“I’m just going out there trying to help the team out,” Overbey said. “I’ll be wherever the coaches need me to be.”

The Jackson, Tenn. native has been played at various positions this season to get his right-handed bat in the lineup. Overbey is hitting .317 in 41 at-bats, including a 3-for-4 game with three RBI this past Saturday against Auburn. In the field, Overbey has not recorded an error and recorded 71 putouts, third most on the team, despite playing four different positions.

Around the SEC

With the series loss to Auburn, Ole Miss dropped in each major poll and is ranked as high as No. 17 in the latest Baseball America Poll. The Arkansas Razorbacks rose in the rankings as high as No. 3 in various polls after a weekend sweep at home against Alabama, Ole Miss’ next SEC opponent. LSU won two out of three at home against Mississippi State, and Collegiate Baseball ranks the Tigers at No. 8. In the East, unanimous No. 1 Florida continued their early season dominance and improve to 19-1 this season with a three-game sweep at home against Vanderbilt. 

Kentucky remains the nation’s only unbeaten team at 21-0, sweeping two-time National Champion South Carolina at home over the weekend. The Wildcats jumped 14 spots from No. 16 to No. 2 in Collegiate Baseball’s poll, while the Gamecocks fell to No. 6. Georgia took two out of three from Tennessee at home and is ranked No. 17 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ Poll.