The No. 17 Ole Miss Rebels (3-1) continue their opening booth while they are welcome in the Xavier Musketeers (2-1) of the Great East. Mike Bianco’s club escaped an angry offer to dodge an RPI bombshell by the Alcorn State Braves on Wednesday and now turned its attention to the X-Men.
Xavier started the 2020 season in Bluff City and ended a series against the Memphis Tigers. Last year the Teers were 12-4 in the conference game but only 27-31 in total. But Billy O’Conner’s club has two of the more talented players in the Great East, namely midfielder Allbry Major and Saturday starter Nick Zwack.
Ole Miss should be able to rely on her starting place this weekend, as the Musketeers only hit .202 as a team after the first weekend. This, coupled with a talented line-up that has both experience and youthful flair, should pose a challenge for the X-Men and give the Rebels a chance to win their second series in the young season.
3 things to look for this weekend
What will Derek Diamond do for an encore?
The California Kid was electrified on his debut against Louisville last weekend. Sure, it wasn’t a decision and he threw 5.2 innings with three deserved runs, but the stuff was there in spades. Diamond, a key member of Ole Miss’ top 5 signing class, has high expectations and was just as announced last weekend.
The 6’2, 200-pounder showed a lot of bragging and natural charisma on the bump. He didn’t look like a newbie at all when he went up against the number at the time. 1 He and Louisville showed plenty of ability to be a starter over the weekend. He was sitting comfortably in his low 90s with his fastball and his slider worked pretty well, hovering somewhere between 80 and 84 mph.
Will we see more Jerrion Ealy?
The soccer star started on the opening day to great cheers from the Swayze Field fans. Although the former top 30 prospect didn’t score his first official hit, his bats were impressively mature for a true newbie. In five bats he took three walks and two of the ones against Alcorn State were full bats.
I think it needs as many reps as possible for Ealy to keep improving on the plate and to be comfortable beating elite pitching. As a high schooler, Jackson Prep didn’t play elite pitching and Ealy couldn’t play much cue ball because of the soccer game. As a result, he’s lagged behind, playing football for Ole Miss all fall and not being able to take part in intrasquads in Oxford.
But Jerrion should be able to get used to the speed of the game with reps, and fans should be excited to see how he progresses.
Xavier has talent.
We’ve already mentioned Major and Zwack, but the Musketeers will also track down Lane Flamm (0-1, 3.00 ERA), the top 2021 prospect in the Great East, and infielder Kody Darcy and Luke Franzoni on Friday night. Darcy (.222, 2 2B) and Franzoni (.300, HR, 4 RBI) should score in the middle of the line-up for Xavier and will certainly test Doug Nikhazy, Gunnar Hoglund and Diamond.
Flamm is also another name that should be known on the plate. The Friday starter leads the tars in slugging (.714) and OPS (1,000) and is runner-up on the team on the batting average (.286) and the total number of bases. He’s a lively two-way player to know this weekend as the Rebels try to stay undefeated in the 2020 series.
Complete Ole Miss Stats Complete XU Stats
How to watch
Audio: turn on
Friday: 4:00 p.m. CST
Saturday: 1:30 p.m. CST
Sunday: 12:00 p.m. EDT