Unbeaten Rebels welcome hot-hitting Eagles

OleMissLogoBy Parrish Alford

Daily Journal

OXFORD – Uncharacteristically unranked among the nation’s top 25, Ole Miss has started the 2014 season with four straight wins.

The first three came easier than expected, perhaps, with a road sweep of Stetson on opening weekend when the Rebels outscored the Hatters 26-3.

“We played really well. I don’t remember a year where we swung that well the first three games in a row,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said.

The offense wasn’t quite as dominant Wednesday in the home opener against Tennessee-Martin.

The Rebels (4-0) won 6-0 but didn’t really stretch the lead until the bottom of the eighth when they scored four runs.

They had eight hits total, two each by Auston Bousfield and Austin Anderson.

Ole Miss begins its first home series today at 4 p.m. against Georgia State. First-pitch times are 1:30 p.m. for both Saturday and Sunday.

The Panthers improved to 3-1 with a 7-6 win over Savannah State on Tuesday.

They won twice at Illinois while scoring 28 runs on opening weekend and arrive at Ole Miss with four players batting better than .400.

There are often wild jumps in batting averages early in the season, but Ole Miss is currently hitting a collective .340, and Bousfield and Anderson have been responsible for a lot of the heavy lifting.

Bousfield is hitting .563, Anderson .500. They’ve gotten off to a combined start of 17-for-32.

“The younger guys, we’ve been through it, and they kind of look up to us,” Bousfield said. “When they see us swinging the bats and being aggressive, not taking pitches, it gives them confidence. It’s very important for the older guys to set a good example.”

Another older guy who hit well at Stetson was catcher Will Allen, who went 6-for-11 with two home runs and 10 RBIs en route to SEC player of the week honors.

Bianco will keep the same pitching rotation for Georgia State. Junior right-hander Chris Ellis will start today, lefty Christian Trent, a first-year junior college transfer, on Saturday and junior right-hander Sam Smith on Sunday.

All three picked up wins on the opening weekend.

“We wanted to go down there and play as well as we could. We came away with three wins, and we’re happy with it,” Bousfield said. “We have a long way to go. It’s a confidence boost, but we need to remember to keep playing hard.”

parrish.alford@JournalInc.com.

MSU vs. Holy Cross

No. 4 Mississippi State will attempt to shake off Wednesday’s stunning upset to Memphis with a four-game weekend series with Holy Cross.

The Bulldogs have started the season 2-2 and are meeting Holy Cross for the first time ever on the Diamond.

Today’s game is slated for a 4 p.m. first pitch followed by a Saturday doubleheader beginning at 11 a.m. The series will conclude Sunday starting at noon.

Junior right-hander Brandon Woodruff (0-1, 18.00 ERA) will start on the mound for MSU while the Crusaders counter with senior righty Nate Walker.

Brett Pirtle has hit safely in all four games for the Diamond Dogs leading the team with a .333 batting average.

This weekend will be Holy Cross’ first action of the season. The Crusaders went 28-25 in 2013.

Logan Lowery