OXFORD – Ole Miss Baseball is surrounded by Tennessee. so what’s next?
Ole Miss was ranked No. 1 by D1 Baseball and Baseball America and No. 2 by USA Today. Now it looks like the Volunteers will take the top spot. 5 Tennessee (23-1, 6-0 SEC) dominated and exposed Ole Miss’s flaws with three wins, 12-1 to the Rebels on Friday, 10-3 on Saturday and 4-3 on Sunday. defeated.
Three starting pitchers from Tennessee posted a 0.87 ERA, with 27 strikeouts against Ole Miss (16-7, 2-4) allowing two runs on eight hits and one walk in 20 2/3 innings. In the middle of Tennessee’s lineup, big bats Drew Gilbert and Trey Lipscomb combined 9-for-23 (.391) with nine RBIs and eight runs.
The no ole miss starting pitcher completed five innings and its stellar lineup struck out 35 times with just two walks.
Kiffin the Troll:Lane Kiffin throws a golf ball to the first pitch before Ole Miss Baseball vs Tennessee
On the gridiron:The more Ole Miss football changes, the more Len Kiffin wants to stay the same
In short, it was bad. It’s up to Ole Miss to answer.
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said after Sunday’s defeat, “This is not a program that has a moral victory or that is close.” “Losses hurt. It doesn’t matter if it’s 10-3 or 4-3. But we played a little better today. I thought our guys were competing.”
After months of off-season hype and five weeks of validating that hype, Ole Miss’s offense laid an egg in its first real challenge. This is an offense that has come in the series at an average of 9.4 runs per game. More importantly, it is an offense that scored runs with walks and singles without relying heavily on home runs.
Tennessee pitched very aggressively and accurately for Ole Miss to load the bases with walks and dared to hit the pitchers on the late count. Jacob Gonzalez and Peyton Chatagnier batted 0-for-24 with 11 strikes at first and second in the order. All seven of Ole Miss’s runs came from home runs. No one came before the seventh inning.
Tennessee is really good. The Rebels won’t face another team this season with three starting pitchers who throw 95 mph or seven regular starters who hit better than .300 with OPS numbers above 1,000. This doesn’t change the fact that Ole Miss was kicked out of its conference class altogether or that the Rebels would have to beat teams of similar ability.
To no one’s surprise, Tennessee scored in bunches against Ole Miss. The surprise was how Ole Miss’ offense could not rise to the occasion and match the volume.
There can really be no offense to pitching your opponents the wrong way. The offense has to adjust to withstand high-velocity pitching and do a better job of batting in the scoring position with the runners down when opportunities are scarce. But the track record of an Ole Miss offense surpasses three days of struggle.
If the offense plays out like this again, ring the alarm bell. For now, fans need to take the same advice as the hitters themselves and practice patience.
Then there is the other side. Ole Miss’s opening pitching is and was mediocre. John Gaddis has outplayed both of his SEC starts. Jack Dougherty has the electric swing-and-miss stuff but gets blisters when opponents make contact. Derek Diamond continues to struggle to face the batsmen for the second time.
Maybe junior Dylan DeLucia, freshman Hunter Elliott or Oregon State transfer Jack Washburn can take a spin in the rotation. The reality is that Ole Miss doesn’t have many good options in the beginning.
The best course of action is to gauge the strength of the starters and the pitch whenever possible, rather than trying to play a six-inning run on players who can’t pull it off. No one will magically turn into Doug Nikhazi or Gunnar Hoglund. Treat each pitcher equally, keep everyone on a short leash and take advantage of every opportunity as if it is the ninth inning of a close game.
Does this fix things? Not necessarily. This puts the Rebels exactly where they were before the series began: a team that needs to win a lot of high-scoring games to thrive.
If the offense recovers and plays over the next eight weeks like it did in the first five, the Rebels are probably in the mix to finish above .500 in the SEC and host a regional. where it happens every year.
If the offense doesn’t go well, Ole Miss may struggle to make it past the season.
Tennessee made its flaws more obvious by removing Ole Miss’s strengths. It is easier to hone your strengths than it is to address your weaknesses. Bianco needs to make sure the offense can bounce back after a rough weekend, or else those results could snowball into a bad month or a year of letdowns.
Contact Nick Suss at 601-408-2674 or [email protected] Follow @nicksuss on Twitter.