Diamond Rebels prepare to take on Mississippi State

Posted on Apr 1 2016 - 7:02am by Brian Scott Rippee
(Photo by: Cameron Brooks) Brady Bramlett throws a pitch in Ole Miss' victory over FIU earlier this season.

(Photo by: Cameron Brooks)
Brady Bramlett throws a pitch in Ole Miss’ victory over FIU earlier this season.


With the midweek game against Memphis postponed due to inclement weather, it’s been five days since Ole Miss last played.

The Rebels are coming off of a weekend in which they were swept at home by South Carolina, and it will not get any easier this weekend as the team begins a three-game series against fifth-ranked Mississippi State in Starkville on Friday night.

Ole Miss has won four of its five series in Starkville and is 8-4 against the Bulldogs in the last 12 contests. Ole Miss has won three consecutive series over Mississippi State.

Mississippi State, 18-7-1 (4-2), took two of three at Vanderbilt, and then again at home against Georgia last weekend to begin SEC play. The Bulldogs played well to begin conference play, and swept Oregon earlier this season.

Rebels ace Brady Bramlett will face off against Mississippi State’s Dakota Hudson on the mound in game one. Hudson is 3-1 with a 1.13 ERA this season and a projected first-round pick in this summer’s MLB draft. Hudson went nine innings against Vanderbilt, allowing just one run in a 13 inning game that the Bulldogs would eventually win 2-1. Hudson picked up his first conference win of the season last week against Georgia by allowing just one run while scattering eight hits in seven innings.

Bramlett comes in with a record of 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA, but was roughed up in last start against South Carolina. He  allowed three runs in the first two innings, earning his first loss of the season. Bramlett leads the SEC and is fourth nationally with 13.06 strikeouts per nine innings.

Saturday will feature a pair of right-handers in Chad Smith and Mississippi State’s Austin Sexton Jr.

Sexton boasts a record of 2-1 with a 3.72 ERA, while Smith holds a mark of 2-2 with a 4.80 earned run average.

After a bit of uncertainty last week in game three, Mike Bianco will send Sean Johnson back out on Sunday this weekend against the Bulldogs. Johnson did not pitch last weekend, and was not even on the dressed list, as Bianco wanted to rest Johnson, feeling that his stuff had deteriorated.

Johnson is a year removed from Tommy John surgery and came back quicker than most pitchers normally do. Mississippi State elected to go TBA on its third starter.

This series features two teams trending in opposite directions. Mississippi State dropped a few games it should not have early in the year, but has since meshed as a team and is playing good baseball.

Meanwhile, Ole Miss was punched in the mouth last weekend for the first time all season and comes into Starkville looking to regroup. As Mike Bianco said last weekend, the Rebels were bad in all facets of the game. It’s the little things that helped Ole Miss start 20-2. Little things like having a collective bullpen ERA  of 1.84 or being second in the SEC in sacrifice flies, and the team will have to get back to doing the little things well if it wants to win this weekend.

The Rebels will also need to pitch better if they wish to stand a chance this weekend. Ole Miss did not have a starter make it past the fifth inning last week, and taxed its bullpen heavily. Six errors in the last two games did not help either. Ole Miss will need to pitch and play defense on a much higher level than it has been if it wants to have a chance this weekend.

PREDICTION: I really think Ole Miss turns it around on the mound, and will pitch much better this weekend. I think the team as a whole gets back on track, especially defensively, after an all-around bad weekend against South Carolina. I just think they picked a bad time to do it. State pitches better than Ole Miss and takes two of three despite the Rebels’ playing better defense.