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No. 6 Ole Miss (37-21, 15-15 SEC) vs. No. 7 Alabama (33-25, 14-15 SEC)

May 23 | 9:30 a.m. | Hoover, Ala. | SportSouth/ESPN3

UM Fr. RHP Jacob Waguespack (0-1, 2.89 ERA) vs. UA So. RHP Spencer Turnbull (4-3, 3.61 ERA)


Ole Miss NCAA Tournament resume:


Overall Record: 37-21

SEC Record/Finish: 15-15/6th

RPI (Warren Nolan): 18

Strength of Schedule: 8

Record vs Top 50 RPI: 13-17

Record vs. 51-100 RPI: 5-2

Record vs. 100+ RPI: 19-2


Ole Miss NCAA Tournament projection:


Mark Etheridge, SEBaseball.com (May 22): No. 2 seed in Louisville Regional

Kendall Rogers, Perfect Game (May 20): No. 2 seed in Clemson Regional

Bianco in SEC Tournament elimination games: Head coach Mike Bianco has advanced to 11 SEC Tournaments in his 13-year tenure at Ole Miss. He is 9-9 all-time in SEC Tournament elimination games, including a 4-1 win against Kentucky on Tuesday. With a 1-1 record this year, he is 20-19 all-time in SEC Tournament games.


Rebels sweep in regular season: Ole Miss and Alabama met for a three-game series in Oxford with the Rebels winning all three games. 


Bobby Wahl and Aaron Greenwood combined for a two-hit shutout in game one, as Ole Miss won 6-0. The Rebels clinched the series with a 5-2 win in game two, then Tanner Mathis delivered a bases-loaded single in the 11th to sweep the series with a 4-3 win in the series finale.


Waguespack to make second career start: Freshman right-hander Jacob Waguespack will start for Ole Miss against Alabama. The 6-foot-6, 215-pounder from Prairieville, La., dealt with an elbow injury for much of the season and made his season debut April 16 against Southern Miss.


Waguespack has made five appearances, including one start, and allowed four runs -- three earned -- on seven hits with three walks and three strikeouts in 9.1 innings. In his one start, he took the loss against Southern Miss, as he gave up two run on four hits in three innings.


Another turn for Mississippi native Turnbull: Jacob Waguespack will be opposed on the mound by Spencer Turnbull, a sophomore right-hander from Madison, Miss. 


Earlier this year, he took a no-decision in a 4-3 loss to Ole Miss, as he allowed two runs on six hits with four walks and two strikeouts in six innings. He pitched in relief against the Rebels in 2012 and took the loss, as he allowed four runs on four hits a strikeout in 0.2 innings.


This season, the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder is second on the team with 13 starts and 77.1 innings pitched this season. He holds a 4-3 record with a 3.61 ERA, .295 B/AVG, 1.46 WHIP and 41-to-30 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Turnbull has also thrown two complete games this season, including a four-hit shutout against Auburn.


Bianco, on availability of Bobby Wahl: "Bobby threw a little bit off the mound today. He could probably throw tomorrow in an emergency. It's not health-wise. We got to be careful with him. We want to do what's right for him and for the program. And as much as we want to have success here, we're going to have to win the following day as well, so somebody else has to pitch. 


"We've really pushed him over the last couple of weeks, as far as short rest and throwing one inning on Friday, then coming back on Sunday, then coming back on two days' short rest. I think we got to get closer to what his normal routine is."


Bianco, on 10 different ineups over last 13 games: "Part of it, I think is trying to find the right matchup... The top five have been pretty solid the last few games with Mathis, Anderson, and then Turner, Mistone, Boz... You just try to find the right matchup for that pitcher that day."


Ole Miss Lineup (career vs. UA SO RHP Spencer Turnbull)


LF Tanner Mathis (1-for-2, 2B, BB)

SS Austin Anderson (1-for-2)

C Stuart Turner (0-for-1, 2 BB)

3B Andrew Mistone (1-for-3)

CF Auston Bousfield (2-for-3, BB)

DH Sikes Orvis (0-for-2)

1B Preston Overbey (2-for-3)

2B Christian Helsel (0-for-0)

RF Will Jamison (1-for-2)


Alabama Lineup (season batting average)


3B Kenny Roberts (.251)

CF Georgie Salem (.272)

2B Kyle Overstreet (.279)

RF Ben Moore (.289)

SS Mikey White (.278)

1B Austen Smith (.277)

C Brett Booth (.283)

LF Andrew Miller (.237)

DH Chance Vincent (.214)



Another Quality Start For Smith

Behind Bobby Wahl and Mike Mayers, sophomore right-hander Sam Smith has quietly put together a stellar season in his own right. The regular third starter in the weekend rotation, the Lake Charles, La., native is 3-0 with a 3.11 ERA and 1.38 WHIP.


"I have always thought I had the potential to go out there and pitch in the SEC," Smith said. "That's why I came here. I just hadn't showed it yet. I think I have done that."


Smith took a no-decision in Wednesday's 4-1 loss to Arkansas, but he continued his success on the mound, giving up just one run on six hits with a walk and four strikeouts in six innings. In the third, he retired three batters in order after back-to-back singles to start the inning, then pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth.


"My defense helped me out a lot," Smith said. "Andrew Mistone made some really good plays. It helped a lot I was able to fill up the zone with all my pitches. I got my slider in the second or third inning. That was a good pitch for me. I was able to locate that well. I was able to keep them off balance, and that was big for me."


His six innings of work tied a career high, most recently against Mississippi State, in which he picked up his third win of the season. He gave up three runs -- one earned -- on eight hits with two strikeouts, as Ole Miss won 10-8.


"I was getting pretty tired, but I was still able to throw all my pitches for strikes," Smith said of pitching six innings. "I think as long as I could do that, I was fine. I felt OK."


Over his last seven starts, dating back to April 14 against Alabama, Smith has allowed just 10 runs, eight of which were earned, in 35 innings.


"Coach (Carl) Lafferty has worked a lot with me in the bullpen," Smith said. "We have been working on a lot of things. My defense has really what has given me the most confidence. I'm not scared to go after people and let them hit the ball because they have made some great plays for me."


Smith said he feels like he has been pitching about the same, just doing a better job throwing pitches for strikes and keeping the ball down. He also credited Wahl and Mayers, and their approach on the mound. 


"Those guys compete harder than anyone I have ever seen," Smith said of Wahl and Mayers. "I try to model my competitiveness after them. They're fun to watch. I think a lot of what I need to work on was runners in scoring position, two outs and making big pitches to get out of the inning. I think I have been doing a better of job of that."


No. 6 Ole Miss (37-20, 15-15 SEC) vs. No. 3 Arkansas (35-19, 18-11 SEC)

May 22 | 9:30 a.m. | Hoover, Ala. | Comcast Sports Southeast/ESPN3

UM So. RHP Sam Smith (3-0, 3.28 ERA) vs. UA Jr. RHP Barrett Astin (4-4, 2.02 ERA)


Ole Miss NCAA Tournament resume:


Overall Record: 37-20

SEC Record/Finish: 15-15/6th

RPI: 18

Strength of Schedule: 9

Record vs Top 50 RPI: 13-16 (includes Tuesday's 4-1 win against Kentucky)

Record vs. 51-100 RPI: 5-2

Record vs. 100+ RPI: 19-2


Ole Miss NCAA Tournament projection:


Mark Etheridge, SEBaseball.com (May 19): No. 2 seed in Louisville Regional

Kendall Rogers, Perfect Game (May 20): No. 2 seed in Clemson Regional


Smith looks for repeat performance: Sophomore right-hander Sam Smith gets the nod for Ole Miss against Arkansas. Head coach Mike Bianco said Tuesday that Smith threw short work before the game against Kentucky. 


It will be his second career start against the Razorbacks, as he took a no-decision in a 6-4 win against Arkansas in 13 innings earlier this season. He allowed one run on three hits with a walk and strikeout in five innings.


The 6-foot-4, 225-pounder remains unbeaten with a 3-0 record to go along with a 3.28 ERA, .281 B/AVG, 1.40 WHIP and 29-to-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In his last six starts, he has allowed nine runs, seven of which were earned, in 29 innings.


Like junior right-hander Mike Mayers on Tuesday, Smith will be pitching on four days' rest, having pitched 3.1 innings against LSU this past Friday, giving up two runs on four hits with three strikeouts and two walks, as Ole Miss lost 5-4.


Astin settles into starter role: Sam Smith will be opposed on the mound by junior right-hander Barrett Astin for Arkansas. In his last outing, a start against Auburn this past Thursday, he took the loss, as he allowed three runs on nine hits with a walk and seven strikeouts in 6.1 innings.


"He threw Thursday (against Auburn)," Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said Monday. "He's probably, obviously, our freshest starter. Give him about five days rest."


The 6-foot-1, 200-punder has pitched in 16 games, including 12 as a starter, and holds a 4-4 record with a 2.02 ERA, .246 B/AVG, 1.18 WHIP and 56-to-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He has bounced between the weekend rotation and bullpen, settling into the rotation where he has made nine starts. In those starts, he has allowed 15 runs, 12 of which were earned, in 45.2 innings.


He pitched in relief in a 6-4 loss to Ole Miss in 13 innings earlier this season, as he allowed one run on four hits with a strikeout. He also made a relief apperance against the Rebels in 2012, and two relief appearances in 2011.


The Arkansas pitching staff leads the nation with a team ERA of 1.90. The bullpen is a combined 10-7 with 17 saves and a 1.76 ERA


Ole Miss Lineup (career vs. UA JR RHP Barrett Astin)


LF Tanner Mathis (0-for-3)

3B Andrew Mistone (0-for-2)

SS Austin Anderson (0-for-4)

C Stuart Turner (0-for-1)

CF Auston Bousfield (0-for-2)

1B Sikes Orvis (2-for-2)

2B Preston Overbey (1-for-1)

RF Will Jamison (0-for-1, HBP)

DH Will Allen (1-for-2, BB)


Arkansas Lineup (career vs. UM SO RHP  Sam Smith)


DH Joe Serrano (1-for-2)

CF Matt Vinson (1-for-2)

LF Brian Anderson (0-for-2)

1B Dominic Ficociello (0-for-0)

RF Tyler Spoon (0-for-2)

3B Jacob Mahan (0-for-3)

2B Jordan Farris (0-for-0)

SS Brett McAfee (0-for-1)

C Jean Ramirez (0-for-0)

WHAT HAPPENED VS. KENTUCKY: On four days' rest, junior right-hander Mike Mayers pitched a gem, giving up one run (unearned) on six hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in 6.1 innings of work, as No. 6 seed Ole Miss won its SEC Tournament opener 4-1 against No. 11 seed Kentucky.


"On short rest, the talking point after the game is how terrific Mike Mayers was," head coach Mike Bianco said. "I don't know if we have another guy who can do what Mike just did. It probably worked out better than we imagine; he was terrific today."


Kentucky threatened in the top of seventh, loading the bases, but junior left-hander Jeremy Massie got out of the inning with an infield fly popup and a groundout. In all, Massie allowed one hit with one walk in 1.2 scoreless innings.


"Jeremy Massie came in with a tough position with the tying run at the plate," Bianco said. "They get a swinging bunt, but he was super composed and gets the pop up and ground ball to get out of (the 7th inning)."


Offensively, the Ole Miss offense pounded out 11 hits, including four doubles, as eight of the nine starters recorded hits during the game. The top four in the order were 4-of-14 with two doubles and two RBI. The Rebels scored a run in the first and third, then two in the sixth.


"It was nice to watch guys continue to swing after coming off the last two games at LSU where we swung it pretty well," Bianco said.


Ole Miss advances to play No. 3 seed Arkansas tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. CT. The game will be televised on CSS and will be streamed online on ESPN3.


MAYERS ON SHORT REST: Mike Mayers made his second-straight start on four days' rest after throwing 105 pitches in a 7-1 loss to LSU this past Thursday and 94 pitches in a 3-0 win against Mississippi State the previous Saturday.


"I felt fine," Mayers said. "I think people make a bigger deal on short rest. You grew up, and nobody ever cared about rest. In the big leagues, you throw 200-plus innings. I stayed on the same routine I have been on the last two weeks. 


"It was one of those days. My fastball command was there. I really pride myself on fastball command and pitch off of that. When my fast ball command is there, coach Mike Bianco does the rest, and Stu(art) Turner does a great job behind the plate."


PITCHING PLAN GOING FORWARD: Mike Bianco did not announce a starter for Wednesday's game against Arkansas. He Bianco said on Monday junior right-hander Bobby Wahl won't start Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, but may work out of the bullpen.


"We'll have to see," Bianco said of the pitching plan. "We'll go back. (Sam) Smith threw a little short work today. We'll talk to Coach Lafferty and see how that went prior to the game and look at that. There are some things running through our head, and how we are going to use Bobby this week.


"It has more to do with health and setting up for next week, and remaining sure you can win the next game."


ANOTHER FAMILIAR FOE IN ARKANSAS: Ole Miss and Arkansas met in a three-game series in March in Fayetteville with the Rebels winning two of three to open Southeastern Conference play. Ole Miss won the series opener 7-1, then Arkansas evened the series with a 10-1 win in game two. In the series finale, Ole Miss won 6-4 in 13 innings.


"I thought we got them at a good time," Bianco said of the earlier series against Arkansas. "(Ryne) Stanek wasn't pitching as well. Dominic (Ficociello), he was playing in the series, but certainly hurt. It was good timing on our part. 


"You don't finish third in this league unless you're very, very good. Of course, they're outstanding on the mound. They have one of the best pitching staffs in the country, so it will be a good challenge for our offense."


Ole Miss also played Arkansas in last year's SEC Tournament, where it won 2-0 and eliminated the Razorbacks.


ASTIN TO START FOR ARKANSAS: Junior right-hander Barrett Astin will get the start for Arkansas. In his last outing, a start against Auburn this past Thursday, he took the loss, as he allowed three runs on nine hits with a walk and seven strikeouts in 6.1 innings.


"He threw Thursday," Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. "He's probably, obviously, our freshest starter. Give him about five days rest."


He pitched 2.2 innings of relief against Ole Miss earlier this year, giving up one run on four hits with a strikeout. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder enters Wednesday's contest with a 4-4 record to go along with a 2.02 ERA, .254 B/AVG, 1.22 WHIP and 63-to-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio.


No. 6 Ole Miss (36-20, 15-15 SEC) vs. No. 11 Kentucky (30-24, 11-19 SEC)

May 21 | 9:30 a.m. | Hoover, Ala. | Fox Sports Net/ESPN3

UM Jr. RHP Mike Mayers (4-5, 3.21 ERA) vs. UK Sr. LHP Jerad Grundy (6-5, 4.75 ERA)


Ole Miss NCAA Tournament resume:


Overall Record: 36-20

SEC Record/Finish: 15-15/6th

RPI (Warren Nolan): 18

Strength of Schedule: 9

Record vs Top 50 RPI: 12-16

Record vs. 51-100 RPI: 6-2

Record vs. 100+ RPI: 18-2


Ole Miss NCAA Tournament projection:


Mark Etheridge, SEBaseball.com (May 19): No. 2 seed in Louisville Regional

Kendall Rogers, Perfect Game (May 20): No. 2 seed in Clemson Regional


Mayers to make second-straight start on four days' rest: Head coach Mike Bianco announced Monday that junior right-hander Mike Mayers will get the start against Kentucky. It will be his second-straight start on four days' rest. He enters the contest with a 4-5 record to go along with a 3.21 ERA, .229 B/AVG, 1.20 WHIP and 66-to-30 strikeout-to-walk ratio.


The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder threw 105 pitches in a 7-1 loss to LSU this past Thursday, giving up five runs on seven hits with a walk and seven strikeouts in six innings of work. He threw 94 pitches the in a 3-0 win against Mississippi State the previous Saturday, as he worked seven scoreless innings, giving up two hits with two walks and five strikeouts.


Mayers will be making his third career start against Kentucky, the second of the season. He won each of the two previous meetings, both matched against Kentucky starter Jerad Grundy, as he allowed a combined six runs -- four earned -- in 13.1 innings. Earlier this year, he allowed three runs -- one earned -- on one hit with three walks and eight strikeouts in six innings.


Wahl 'day-to-day in his workload': Mike Bianco said that the availability of junior right-hander Bobby Wahl is another thing they will talk about today. He said Wahl won't start Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, but may work out of the bullpen.


"We want to pitch him, we need to pitch him, but we have to be careful and make sure he's really feeling good when the regional rolls around," Bianco said of Wahl.


Bianco in SEC Tournament openers, elimination games: Mike Bianco has advanced to 11 SEC Tournaments in his 13-year tenure at Ole Miss. He is 6-4 all-time in SEC Tournament openers.


With the new tournament format this season, the first round is single elimination before double elimination will begin with the final eight teams, including the top four seeds. Bianco is 8-9 all-time in SEC Tournament elimination games, including a 2-0 win against Arkansas and 11-2 loss to LSU last season. 


Bianco also won the 2006 SEC Tournament without facing elimination, winning four straight, capped by a 9-3 win against Vanderbilt 9-3 in the final. He is 19-18 all-time in SEC Tournament games.


Mathis stays hot at the top: Senior outfielder Tanner Mathis has reached base in 18 straight games and has raised his average 51 points to. 272 during that span. He was 7-for-10 with four walks in three games against LSU this past weekend.


Mathis has started all but one game and leads the team with 32 walks and ranks second on the team with a .408 on-base percentage.


"All of them have swung the bat great," Bianco said of the top and middle of his lineup. "(Austin) Anderson, (Tanner) Mathis, (Stuart) Turner, (Andrew) Mistone, they just continue to get hotter and hotter as the postseason gets closer. You need a handful of guys in the middle or at the top of the lineup to produce runs."


Familiar foe in Kentucky: Ole Miss and Kentucky met in a three-game series in April in Oxford with the Rebels dropping the series 2-1 to the Wildcats. Kentucky rallied to win the series opener 3-2 on the ESPNU Thursday Night Game of the Week. Ole Miss evened the series with a 11-5 win in game two, but was unable to complete a ninth-rally in a 5-4 loss in the series finale.


Ole Miss and Kentucky also met in last year's SEC Tournament opener with the Wildcats winning 2-0. Matt Snyder went 4-for-4 at the plate, while Bobby Wahl allowed just two runs on six hits with two walks and six strikeouts.


Where Kentucky is now: Kentucky, picked third in the SEC Eastern Division in the preseason poll, began the season ranked as high as No. 8 in one poll. The Wildcats began the season 22-6, winning 14 of their first 16 games before the start of SEC play.


Kentucky started SEC play with three straight series wins against Florida, Mississippi State and Georgia before dropping three straight series to LSU, Tennessee and South Carolina prior to its series against Ole Miss. Since its series win at Ole Miss, Kentucky is 4-7, including series losses to Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Missouri. 


Including nonconference games, Kentucky is 8-18 (5-16 in SEC play) since its 22-6 start and has fallen out of the polls. The Wildcats enter the SEC Tournament with a No 38 RPI, No. 25 strength of schedule and a 13-17 record against the RPI Top 50. Kentucky head coach Gary Herderson said they need a significant run, if not win the SEC Tournament to make the NCAA Tournament.


Grundy faces Ole Miss for the third time: Senior left-hander Jerad Grundy gets the nod on the mound for Kentucky, his third career start for Ole Miss. He took the loss in each of the two previous starts, as he allowed a combined 15 runs in 10.1 innings. Earlier this year, he allowed nine runs on 12 hits with two walks and two strikeouts in 5.2 innings, as Ole Miss won 11-5.


The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder enters Tuesday's contest with a 6-5 record to go along with a 4.75 ERA, .286 B/AVG, 1.36 WHIP and 60-to-20 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Ole Miss is 9-13 against left-handed starters this season.


Grundy, a 26th-round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins in the 2012 MLB Draft, started the season in the weekend rotation and won five of his first six decisions, including wins against Florida and Mississippi State. 


He then suffered three straight losses to Georgia, LSU and Tennessee, followed by a no-decision against South Carolina and a loss to Ole Miss and was removed from the weekend rotation. In the two midweek starts since, against Wright State and Indiana, Grundy is 1-0 with a 1.64, allowing just two runs on nine hits with two walks and seven strikeouts in 11 innings. 


"He ran into a rough four-game stretch in the middle of the year," Kentucky head coach Gary Henderson said of Grundy. "We moved him out of the rotation, and he was able to relax and get back to being himself, which is what we saw for the last year and a half. He's pitched much, much better the last two or three times out than he had the previous four."

What's at stake for Kentucky: 


I think so. RT @kyletucker_cj: @aaronfitt UK, off losing 2 of 3 at Mizzou & with just 11 SEC wins, gotta win SEC tournament to get in NCAA?

-- Aaron Fitt (@aaronfitt) May 18, 2013

Follow me on twitter @austinkmiller

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