Ole Miss Baseball Practice Report: Pizza Bowl Week
OXFORD, Miss. – (Release) The fall season is nearing its finale as the Ole Miss baseball team is set for its last scrimmage of the season, The Pizza Bowl, this Friday at 6 p.m. CT at Swayze Field.
The Rebels wrapped up fall play against outside competition this past Sunday with a 13-9 win over Memphis in 14 innings. Now, Ole Miss will take on itself in its final intrasquad to cap the opening leg of the Road to Omaha.
The Pizza Bowl
The Pizza Bowl is set for a 6 p.m. CT first pitch and will be streamed live on the Ole Miss Sports YouTube channel, featuring live interviews with head coach Mike Bianco and players, as well as all the action on the field.
The Pizza Bowl will be a 10-inning game featuring lineups selected, constructed and coached by veteran pitchers Xavier Rivas and Mitch Murrell. In the scrimmage, all position players must get at least one plate appearance, and pitchers are limited to a one-inning max, aside from three pitchers per team who are allowed a two-inning maximum outing.
Admission is free for fans.
Riley Maddox looks as strong and as comfortable as ever out on the mound this fall, and it has shown in his results as well.
The junior out of Pearl, Mississippi, was thrown into the fire as a freshman but handled it well, allowing one run or fewer in 11 of his 14 relief outings. When he tossed 2.2 shutdown innings on the road at South Carolina in April of that season, it looked like he was blossoming into just the bullpen weapon Ole Miss needed. Unfortunately, his first year was cut short, as he dogpiled in Omaha with a brace on his arm after having Tommy John surgery.
As a sophomore, Maddox worked his way back onto the mound one year and one week after his last outing and made five appearances, all in SEC play. In 2023, the Jackson Prep product wasn’t the same dominant arm we saw late in 2022, but all signs point to that man being back for 2024. Maddox has led the Rebels with a 5.0 K/BB ratio (10 Ks, 2 BBs) and was second on the team with 0.93 walks and hits allowed per innings pitched.
“He’s had a really good fall. Really proud of him,” Bianco said. “We thought the handful of appearances he had at the end of last year were going to make a big difference this fall and then the next time he got on the mound. Because at some point, it has to be the first time you’re out there for real against competition, be it a real game or an intrasquad game, and it’s a tough way to come back and jump right straight into SEC play, but he wanted to do it. He missed the end of the year before, he missed Omaha and he wanted to be a part of that. It’s tough. It’s tough to do what he did, but I certainly think it’s paying dividends for him now.”
With its three most productive position players off to the professional ranks, Ole Miss needed leadership and experience from its returners. Reagan Burford has supplied that this fall, as well as some impressive offensive firepower.
The senior out of Germantown, Tennessee, has appeared in 70 games and made 44 starts over his Ole Miss career, more appearances in a Rebel uniform than anyone else on the roster. This fall, he’s driven in 21 runs, more than anyone on the roster not named Jackson Ross. Burford is also tied for third on the team this fall with five home runs.
“He’s one of the guys who is an Ole Miss guy through and through, he loves this university, he loves this program,” Bianco said. “You can see it, you can see it in his everyday actions, in the way he carries himself, the way he plays, the way he handles himself in the locker room and the weight room and the meetings and everything he does. It has been a big help, even though we don’t have many of them, to have a guy like Reagan to help lead us this fall.”
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(Feature image credit: Ole Miss Athletics)
Adam Brown joins The Rebel Walk as a Sports Editor after being on the Ole Miss beat for over 11 years. He is a lifelong Oxford resident. Brown graduated from the University of Mississippi with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
Prior to The Rebel Walk, Brown was the sports editor of HottyToddy.com covering every Ole Miss sport and local high school sports in the community.