By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
After posting big numbers against an overmatched mid-week opponent, No. 14-ranked Ole Miss will look for its third-straight series win in its final pre-SEC tune-up.
The Rebels (10-2) have won back-to-back series against North Carolina-Wilmington and Miami-Ohio, taking five of six games in the process.
They take on Houston in the first of three games tonight at 6:30 at Swayze Field. Game 2 is set for 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Game 3 at noon on Sunday.
Ole Miss is coming off a 20-4 win over Tennessee-Martin on Tuesday, a game that included two home runs, one a grand slam, and seven RBIs for Zach Kirksey, the senior outfielder and designated hitter.
“Kirksey was tremendous and continues to swing a very hot bat,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said.
Kirksey swung a hot bat when the Rebels won two of three at Houston in 2011, but he had fewer opportunities going 4 for 5.
A year later Kirksey is batting .500 and leads the team in home runs with five and RBIs with 21.
The Cougars are 6-6 following a 3-1 loss at Louisiana-Lafayette on Tuesday, but they’ve got some impressive wins, two of them against SEC foes Tennessee and No. 4-ranked Arkansas last weekend in a tournament hosted by Houston.
Ole Miss right-hander Bobby Wahl will try to bounce back from a no-decision in last week’s 9-8 Ole Miss loss to Miami. Wahl (2-0, 2.65 ERA) won his first two starts.
“I need to work at making better pitches. Last week, after we went over the film, I noticed I was missing spots, a couple of fastballs outside that should have been inside. Coach Bianco talked with me about that, about locating the fastball and breaking ball better and throwing more quality pitches,” Wahl said.
Wahl will oppose Houston right-hander Jared Ray (1-0, 1.42 ERA), who has allowed only three runs and 14 hits in 19 innings of work this season.
The Rebels are hitting a collective .317, and Wahl says the offensive brings confidence to the pitchers.
“Kirksey is stroking it beyond belief, and it’s awesome to have guys in your lineup, 1 through 9, who can produce,” he said.