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No. 18 Diamond Rebs look to keep momentum in midweek clash with Memphis

Alex Edwards/The Daily Mississippian


Hoping to keep the momentum from this past weekend’s series win over Arkansas, No. 18 Ole Miss (27-13) will face the Memphis Tigers (17-23) tonight at AutoZone Park in Memphis. 

The Rebels defeated the Tigers 7-2 earlier this season in Oxford. In that matchup, Ole Miss used a five-run eighth inning to claim the victory. 

Junior right-hander Tanner Bailey will get the nod on the mound for Ole Miss in tonight’s contest. Bailey has been used exclusively out of the bullpen this season, but he’s been very productive. In 14.1 innings of work this season, Bailey boasts a 3.77 earned run average and a 1-0 record. He has also recorded 17 strikeouts to just four walks. 

His opponent will be junior left-hander Michael Wills, who is 2-1 on the year with a 4.60 earned run average in 47.0 innings pitched. Wills has also recorded 26 strikeouts. He started against Ole Miss earlier this season and went 6.0 innings giving up two runs, one earned and four hits in the outing. 

At the plate, Ole Miss holds an advantage by a large margin. The Rebels have a team batting average of .315, compared to the .280 team average for Memphis. Ole Miss averages 6.35 runs per game, compared to 5.5 runs per game for the Tigers.

Junior second baseman Alex Yarbrough continued to lead the Rebels and ranks second in the Southeastern Conference with a .433 batting average along with 38 RBI and three home runs, followed by senior first baseman Matt Snyder, who is batting .377 with 45 RBI and nine home runs.

For Memphis, the offensive leaders are senior left fielder Adam McClain and senior designated hitter Eli Hynes. McClain is hitting .378 with 27 RBI, while Hynes is batting at a clip of .325 to go along with 35 RBI and 10 home runs.

Yarbrough named SEC Co-Player of the Week

After an impressive performance at the plate last week, Yarbrough was named Southeastern Conference Co-Player of the Week by league offices on Monday.

Yarbrough hit .529 for the week, which included a .615 average against Arkansas, who held the league’s best team earned run average entering the weekend. 

The Allen, Texas, native also extended his hitting streak to 19 games, sixth-best in school history, and he has hit safely in all but one conference game this season. In SEC play, Yarbrough is hitting an impressive .427 and has totaled 14 RBI in those games.

Hively filling a new role

Senior right-hander R.J. Hively had been one of the three weekend starters each week before this past weekend against Arkansas when he moved into the bullpen to help fill a need at the end of games.

In his first attempt this season in the new role, it worked to perfection. Hively came in to relieve sophomore right-hander Mike Mayers in the seventh inning of Saturday’s 1-0 win over the Razorbacks. Hively pitched the final 2.2 innings of the game not giving up a hit and striking out the side in the ninth inning to secure the win.

Although his goal was to become a starter, Hively is OK with the move back to the bullpen.

“It’s a new role, but it’s the same aspect when you go out there,” Hively said. “You want to fill up the zone and throw up zeros.

“The only thing different is coming to the ballpark everyday knowing you could pitch rather than knowing that you’re going to start on that certain day. You’ve just got to be more prepared and more mentally ready.”

SEC Roundup

Ole Miss moved up in each poll after a midweek win against Mississippi State and taking two of three this weekend against Arkansas. The Rebels are ranked as high as No. 18 in Baseball America’s latest poll. Ole Miss is also listed at No. 19 in both the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper poll and USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll as well as No. 21 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) poll.

The Razorbacks dropped in each poll but are still ranked as high as No. 17 in both the USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll and NCBWA. 

LSU is ranked as high as No. 3, according to Collegiate Baseball, after dropping two of three on the road at Kentucky, which is No. 1 in the latest Collegiate Baseball rankings. Mississippi State swept Tennessee at home, and Vanderbilt won two of three over Alabama over the weekend. 

Florida is ranked No. 2, according to the NCBWA and the USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll after taking a series win against Georgia. South Carolina is ranked as high as No. 4 in the NCBWA poll after a series sweep of Auburn.