After a Loss, Ole Miss Braces for Conference Play

Ole Miss finished off the series against ULM with 2 wins and 1 Sunday loss. I know, I know, the Rebels always win at home on a Sunday in the Powder Blues. Unfortunately, this week was the rare exception.

A game on Saturday left Ole Miss fans on the edge of their seats. Despite the early 3-0 lead, a beloved Ole Miss reliever, Taylor Broadway, struggled in the 8th inning. Broadway gave up 3 runs in the inning, all of which were earned. Despite giving the lead to the Warhawks, Bianco stuck with him for the 9th where he locked down a scoreless frame. The Rebels were losing in the bottom of the 9th, but they are no strangers to walk off heroics.

Kevin Graham went 4 for 5 in the contest, but no at-bat meant more to the Rebel Faithful than the one in the 9th. KG blasted one over the Rightfield wall with a runner on and the stadium media controller cued up “You Dropped a Bomb On Me.” After the beer showers in Right dried up, the fans left the ballpark looking forward to a sweep opportunity on Sunday.

ULM happens to be one of those pesky teams. They have a fine program, but beating Ole Miss on a Sunday, that shouldn’t be in the cards for them. The baseball gods decided Derek Diamond would have a tough outing, however, and that allowed the Warhawks to get going early. 5 runs in 3.1 innings is never good. Sure, he didn’t earn them all, but he earned 3 of them. It was too early for Dr. Diamond to get chased, but in Bianco’s defense, the kid just didn’t have his stuff. UL-Monroe approached this game with a small ball mentality and it worked.

Kimbrell and Johnson faced the same unfortunate luck when they took over. Kimbrell let up a few baserunners and Johnson just couldn’t hold them. Ole Miss, down 7-3 at this point, just didn’t have any magic left in the tank for the comeback. They had a few chances to cut into the lead, but unfortunately everybody went cold at the same time. In the 8th inning, Tyler Myers decided to join the club and let up a run of his own.

The offense didn’t have enough in game 3, but there is plenty to celebrate. Kevin Graham walked twice and went 1-2. He is peeking at a very convenient time for the Rebs. Elko went longball once again, the Rebels can only hope this power swing is just as potent during conference play. Gonzalez and Van Cleve impressed many fans this weekend by slugging the baseball from the bottom part of the order. The Rebel offense is starting to catch stride and every team in the SEC is on notice.

With the offense as hot as it is right now, what could hold this team back? The weekend pitching. These are 3 incredibly talented starters, but they aren’t incredible all the time. The last thing Ole Miss fans want to see is other schools in the SEC getting good scouting information to counteract the, not-so-young anymore, studs they trot out on the mound.

Tuesday will be fun. Ole Miss travels to Ruston, LA to battle with LA Tech in (what originally was a 2 game) midweek matchup. LA Tech is hoping to get a statement win in their brand new ballpark while the Rebels look to improve on their 13-3 record. Wins and losses are incredibly important, but the Rebels are more focused on locking in an Omaha caliber lineup and sorting out which bullpen pieces can handle which bodies of work.

This upcoming weekend, the Rebs take on the Auburn Tigers and the SEC schedule gets underway. It’s time for this young Rebel line up to face the best teams in the country. It’ll be tough, but it’s a necessary grind to position themselves for the post season.

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