The Rebels took to the road for the first time this season. They traveled to Orlando, Florida to take on the University of Central Florida Knights. The series was originally scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. However, in what seems to be the norm for the Rebels, weather played a factor in this weekend’s games.
Ole Miss has seen all kinds of weather this year, including bitter cold, sleet, snow and this time, a steady rain. The Saturday contest was postponed to Sunday with a crack-of-dawn start time of 8:00 am. It was shortened to nine innings from seven, while the final game was a nine-inning game.
Friday Night — Game 1 (L, 5-4)
The Rebels lost 5-4 Friday night in walk-off fashion. Ole Miss jumped out to a 4-0 advantage, but when playing a veteran team like the Knights, no lead is safe. The Knights chipped away all night and took the lead and win in the bottom of the ninth.
Sunday Morning — Game 2 (L, 3-2; 7 innings)
Behind another quick start, the Rebels jumped ahead 2-1. Late in the game, however, the Knights squared one up, hit a home run, and took the lead 3-2. That was good enough for the victory for UCF.
Sunday Morning (10:40 am) — Game 3 (W, 4-3)
Ole Miss got off to another fast start and appeared to be cruising, up 3-0 behind a couple of homeruns. But the Knights cut the lead with a homerun of their own and later tied the game at 3-3. Ole Miss bounced back and took the lead in the top of the ninth, 4-3, and held on for the victory.
What we learned this weekend
Starting pitching – Overall Grade: A
This is a strength for the Rebels. Central Florida can swing it, yet our pitchers kept us in position to win all three games. Ole Miss starters Christian Trent, Brady Bramlett, and Sam Smith had quality outings.
Bullpen – Overall Grade: B
Offense – Overall Grade: B –
We saw J.B. Woodman move to the three hole, and we believe this is a natural fit for him. Sikes Orvis seems to be able to produce wherever you put him in the lineup. He has batted in the 3-4-5 holes and has had production in all three. Orvis seems to be the natural 4 hole, and with Woodman in front of him and Colby Bortles behind, the opposing pitchers will have to deal with him one way or another. Kyle Watson moved to leadoff and looked comfortable in that role, leading off the second game of the series with a double.
The bottom line is Ole Miss left too many men on base, 26 in three games. We failed to capitalize on some of the Central Florida mistakes and it cost us one if not two games.
Defense – Overall Grade: A+
The Rebels used basically the same defense for the whole road trip. The only position change was at catcher. Henri Lartigue caught the middle game of the weekend. He and Brady Bramlett seem to be comfortable together. Austin Knight caught the first and third games of the series and did a great job. Errol Robinson made a highlight play in the first game getting Christian Trent out of a jam. All positions were solid this weekend.
This team is very tough and competes from the first pitch to the last out. We need to do a better job of scoring runs and moving runners when we have a chance, but we had a lot of good at-bats this weekend. I suspect we will see more of Will Golsan as the season progresses; he has good at bats and is a tough out.
Rebel pitching is strong from the starters to the bullpen. Ole Miss used a total of seven pitchers this weekend, including the three starters and those in the pen: Wyatt Short, Jacob Waguespack, Scott Weathersby and Will Stokes. The Rebels still had arms in the pen if necessary in Drake Robinson, John Wesley Ray, Matt Denney and Evan Anderson.
Ole Miss takes to the road for a mid-week game. The Rebels will travel to Hattiesburg on Wednesday night to take on Southern Miss. The game is scheduled for 6:30, and there is a good chance Evan Anderson will get the start on the hill. It is also likely Rebel fans will see some of the pitchers who haven’t pitched much this year, including Denney, Ray and Robinson.
We also look for Golsan to get some at-bats, either playing a position, DH or pinch hitter.
The Rebels are currently 6-4 and need to win this mid-week game to carry momentum into the weekend with Stetson coming to town.