FINDING A GROOVE: Rebels back in SEC West race after weekend sweep

Published 12:02 pm Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Last week could have gone much differently for the Ole Miss baseball team. The Rebels could have allowed rival Mississippi State to sweep them and continued their nosedive at Pearl against Southern Mississippi.

They chose not to.

The No. 8 Rebels find themselves back in a five-game winning streak, their longest since they had a 12-game winning streak snapped by Tennessee last month, and once again in contention for the Southeastern Conference Western Division title.

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A sweep over Arkansas for the first time at Oxford-University Stadium has Ole Miss (25-7) back to .500 in the SEC at 6-6 after rattling off four straight conference wins dating back to its Sunday showdown in Starkville on April 3.

“It was a big weekend for us,” Ole Miss first baseman Will Golsan said after sweeping Arkansas on Sunday. “Getting back in the SEC and getting three wins was huge for us. A sweep is always good, especially at home in the SEC.”

While the Rebels have been rattling off wins on the weekend, West leader Mississippi State has lost two of the its last four. The Bulldogs did win the series over Florida last weekend, but the two losses to Ole Miss and the Gators over the last two weekends have allowed the Rebels to get back to within two games of the West lead.

Ole Miss heads to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, for an SEC road series against Alabama this weekend while No. 2 Mississippi State hosts No. 4 Texas A&M. If the Rebels can take care of business against the Crimson Tide and can get a little help from the Aggies, they might find themselves near or at the top of the division at the midway point of the SEC season.

“We just take it one game at a time,” Ole Miss pitcher Wyatt Short said. “We don’t focus on any other teams besides the next one we play. One game, one pitch at a time.”

Offense waking up
The wins are coming in bunches all of a sudden again because the runs have started coming in bunches for the Rebels once again.

Ole Miss scored 29 runs against Arkansas and 43 runs in this five-game stretch. The Rebels have held their opponents to 26 runs.

Most of the damage has been done in the first few innings, which was something Ole Miss could not do during its losing streak, knocking around or knock ing out the opposing starter early in the game.

“We’ve played well,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “We’ve rebounded after a stretch of about five games. We’ve played well since that Saturday in Starkville. … Sometimes you have to stay the course. They’ve worked really hard, but it’s baseball and hitting comes and goes at times. They realize that, and it’s an older lineup that’s able to bounce back.”

Ole Miss will host No. 25 Southern Mississippi on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.