Notes and observations on the Rebels following a second mid-week win and heading into the LSU series. ...
As encouraging as Josh Laxer's start was against Southern Miss on Tuesday, Sam Smith's start was disappointing in the quest for pitching depth down the stretch.
Smith was unable to get out of the first inning, recording just two outs before being replaced by Chris Ellis.
Smith got off to the fastest start of the freshman pitchers, but he's struggled of late. Against Murray he faced nine batters, giving up four hits, four runs, three earned. He walked a batter and hit a batter and left the game trailing 4-0.
It was an alarming start for Ole Miss. Murray came in at 20-25 and with a 177 RPI. A loss could have severely damaged Ole Miss in the RPI. As it is, the Rebels stand at No. 21 following the game, according to WarrenNolan.com.
The RPI is a key component in determining regional host sites, and the Rebels can possibly play their way back into the host conversation if they win the series against LSU this weekend. First game is Friday at 6:30 at Swayze Field. LSU is No. 4 in the Baseball America Top 25, No. 5 in the RPI.
The Rebels are 14-12 against RPI top 50 teams, the most RPI top 50 wins of any Western Division team.
The bottom line is Ole Miss is 10-11 in SEC play with nine games left. They need to go 5-4 to finish 15-15, and a break-even mark given their RPI would pretty much solidify them in the NCAA tournament. A team that missed postseason altogether last year needs to make returning to the NCAAs its first order of business.
Ellis relieved Smith and threw 4.1 scoreless innings, giving up three hits, no walks and five strikeouts.
The Murray State game is one in which you hope to use guys who haven't gotten to play much this season, and Casey Mulholland and Jon Andy Scott were able to get in and do good things.
Mulholland pitched two innings with a hit, a run, no walks and no strikeouts. Scott finished things up with two innings, two hits, no runs, no walks and two strikeouts.
Four runs are a pretty big deficit, but the Rebels took control of the game with a nine-run fourth inning. They got on the board with a run in the third before sending 13 batters to the plate in the fourth.
Will Allen had a leadoff double, scored on a single by John Gatlin, then had another hit later in the inning. Gatlin continues to hit in limited opportunities, and his average is up to .400.
Tanner Mathis and Zach Kirksey had doubles in the inning, Kirksey's driving in two runs.
Alex Yarbrough went 1-for-2. He had an eighth-inning single and walked twice. Matt Snyder was 0-for-3.
Yarbrough is hitting .417 going into the LSU series, second in the SEC to LSU's Raph Rhymes, who is hitting .503.