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No. 18 Rebels host Central Arkansas in double-header today

Addison Dent/The Daily Mississippian


Following a series loss on the road at No. 1 Kentucky, No. 18 Ole Miss (21-10, 6-6 Southeastern Conference) will look to get back on track as it takes on the Central Arkansas Bears (13-15, 7-8 Southland Conference) in a double-header beginning at 3 p.m. today at Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field. Each game will be seven innings. 

The Rebels will be featured on ESPNU as the Thursday night game of the week, as they open a three-game series at Georgia this weekend.

Central Arkansas heads into today with a team batting average of .279, second in the Southland and an average of 5.9 runs per game, third in the Southland, while Ole Miss is hitting .312 and averaging 6.9 runs per game, which rank second and third, respectively, among SEC teams.

The Bears are led at the plate by junior outfielder Forrest Allday, who is hitting .367 with 17 RBI and one home run, and senior infielder Bryan Willson with a .357 batting average, 21 RBI and one home run. Both rank in the league’s top 10 in batting average.

Junior second baseman Alex Yarbrough leads the team and ranks second in the SEC with a .433 batting average and 52 hits to go along with 33 RBI and three home runs. Senior first baseman Matt Snyder is second on the team with a .362 batting average and tied for the league lead with 13 doubles. Senior designated hitter Zach Kirksey continues to lead the SEC with 10 home runs and 37 RBI, followed by Snyder in second with 36 RBI.

The first of the two games will feature freshman right-hander Sam Smith from Ole Miss and sophomore right-hander Bryce Biggerstaff from Central Arkansas. Smith will make his sixth start of the season and holds a 1-2 record with a 4.32 earned run average in 25.0 innings pitched. The Lake Charles, La., native has also recorded 21 strikeouts to just four walks. Biggerstaff has made a team-high 11 appearances, including two starts, and holds a 1-2 record and 1.88 earned run average in 24.0 innings pitched.

In the day’s second game, the Rebels’ pitcher is to be announced while the Bears will send senior right-hander Ryan Angus, the team’s regular Sunday starter who holds a 2-3 record and 6.00 earned run average in eight starts and 39.0 innings pitched.

“Sam will go as long as he can go,” head coach Mike Bianco said in an interview with RebelGrove.com’s Chase Parham. “After Smith, you’ll see a lot of guys, but those guys won’t throw a lot of innings. We’ll get to use some people.”

New reliable face in the bullpen

Sophomore right-hander Aaron Greenwood has emerged in the past couple of weeks as a new and much-needed arm in the Ole Miss bullpen.

Greenwood first made his mark in Sunday’s series finale against then-No. 1 Florida, in which he threw 2.2 innings, giving up just one run on four hits while striking out four opposing hitters.

The Byhalia native followed with two solid outings this past weekend on the road at No. 1 Kentucky. On Friday night, Greenwood gave up one run on two hits in 2.1 innings before going 1.1 innings. In Sunday’s rubber game, he allowed one run on two hits.

“I’ve gotten a couple of chances lately,” Greenwood said. “Ever since then, it’s not as nerve-racking. It’s always nerve-racking when you’re coming in. It’s always exciting to get another chance to go out and pitch.”

Mistone breaks out of slump

Junior third baseman Andrew Mistone started the season on fire, but in recent weeks, he’s been on a steady decline. Until last weekend, that is. Mistone, who is currently hitting .269, went 7-for-13 over the weekend with four RBI.

“You try not to focus on (your average) as a hitter,” Mistone said. “You can’t get caught up on that. You’ve got to just focus on the process. Focus on the process, and success will take care of itself. That’s what I was trying to do — just stick to my good approach.”

SEC Roundup

Losing two of three at Kentucky did not sit well with the pollsters as the Rebels dropped in almost every poll. In Baseball America’s weekly rankings, Ole Miss fell from No. 10 to No. 18. Collegiate Baseball kept the Rebels at No. 21 while the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) dropped Ole Miss four spots to No. 20. The Rebels also fell four spots in the USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll to No. 19. Kentucky remained at No. 1 in the latest Collegiate Baseball poll.

LSU moved up to as high as No. 3, according to Collegiate Baseball, after winning two of three at Florida over the weekend. The Gators dropped in every poll but are still ranked as high as No. 4 in NCBWA, the USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll and Collegiate Baseball.

Arkansas took two of three from Georgia at home and moved up to No. 9 in both the USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll and Collegiate Baseball while the Bulldogs are now No. 28 in NCBWA. Auburn dropped out of the rankings after getting swept by in-state foe Alabama. South Carolina is ranked as high as No. 7 in the NCBWA poll after taking the series against Tennessee. Mississippi State won its series at home against Vanderbilt over the weekend.