Preview: Alabama Hits The Road To Take On Ole Miss
A doubleheader sweep over Mississippi Valley State on Tuesday afternoon may be the confidence boost Alabama needed as they head to Oxford for a three-game series against Ole Miss.
Alabama (22-18, 7-11 SEC) is in need of some big wins down the home stretch if they plan on making it to an NCAA regional. The Crimson Tide was left out of the field of 64 in D1baseball.com's latest regional projections. A series win over the Rebels on the road should increase their chances of making it to the postseason.
Ole Miss (22-20, 8-10 SEC) is also vying for a spot in the postseason. The Rebels' résumé this season includes series wins over Florida and Vanderbilt which is an accomplishment in and of itself, but it is even more impressive when taking their statistics into consideration.
The Rebels are last in the SEC in batting average (.255) and slugging percentage (.363). Their 341 strikeouts is the second most in the conference behind Vanderbilt. However, infielders like Colby Bortles (brother of Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles) and Sikes Orvis have proven to be big threats at the plate. They each have 32 RBI and have hit 14 home runs combined.
Alabama will rely on its starting rotation to take advantage of Ole Miss' weaknesses at the plate. The Tide's probable starters are LHP Taylor Guilbeau (2-3, 3.29, 50 SO, 34 BB), RHP Jake Walters (4-1, 1.38 ERA, 38 SO 14 BB), and RHP Geoffrey Bramblett (5-2, 4.22 ERA, 40 SO, 17 BB). Guilbeau pitched 8.0 innings against Missouri last week but a lack of run support led to his third loss of the season. Walters' debut in the starting rotation went perfectly as he pitched seven shutout innings in a 6-0 win. Bramblett gave up four home runs in his last start, which led to his second loss this season.
On the mound for Ole Miss will be LHP Christian Trent (5-4, 4.09 ERA, 45 SO, 18 BB), RHP Brady Bramlett (4-2, 2.47 ERA, 59 SO, 17 BB), and RHP Will Stokes (1-4, 6.55 ERA, 18 SO, 8 BB). Trent has losses in each of his last two starts while Bramlett's last loss was on April 4th against Tennessee. Stokes only win of the season came against Vanderbilt in a rubber match that helped seal one of the Rebels' biggest series wins of the year.
Facing off against Ole Miss' trio of starters will be the steadily improving Alabama lineup. Casey Hughston and Mikey White continue to set the pace as they are both batting over .350 and have over 50 hits a piece. Meanwhile, Georgie Salem has been on the rise after going 4-for-4 with two triples in game two of Tuesday's doubleheader. Freshman Cody Henry was equally impressive in game two after recording his seventh multi-hit game of the season.
Alabama leads the all-time series 203-140-1 over Ole Miss including a series sweep over the Rebels in Tuscaloosa last year. Friday's game is scheduled to begin at 6:30 pm CT, and Saturday's game is scheduled to begin at 7:00 pm CT. The two teams will wrap up the series at 12:00 pm CT on Sunday.