Series Preview: Ole Miss Rebels

Coming off of a somewhat disappointing start to the season, the No. 14 Maryland Terrapins (2-2) are back on the road for their second series of the year against the 2022 College World Series Champions, the red-hot No. 4 Ole Miss Rebels (4-0).

After their comeback fell short in the first game of the season, Maryland won its next two games thanks to grand slams in both contests courtesy of Nick Lorusso and Ian Petrutz. With the offense looking revitalized, things seemed to be going Maryland’s way. Unfortunately in their next game against West Virginia, the Mountaineers dismantled the Terps’ pitching as they put up seven runs and caused three pitching changes in the first three innings alone. A late comeback attempt by the Terps failed as they fell to 2-2 on the young season.

Ole Miss, however, has been firing on all cylinders out of the gate as they won all four of their games to start the new season. So far the Rebels have outscored their opponents 46-9 thanks to the slugging trio of Chatagnier, Alderman, and Gonzalez. Equally impressive has been the Rebels’ pitching with an average ERA of 2.69 between their four starters so far. However, Ole Miss will be without their ace Hunter Elliot this weekend as he deals with forearm tightness.

The game Friday will be just the third time ever these programs have squared off on the diamond. The series is currently tied at 1-1 with the most recent victory being Maryland’s back on May 29, 2015 when the Terps won 3-1.

Last Season

Ole Miss went 42-23 (14-16) in 2022 where they breezed through the NCAA Regionals and Super Regionals before advancing to the College World Series. There, they went 5-1 with wins against Auburn, Arkansa, and finally Oklahoma to claim their title as champions of college baseball. From that team, the Rebels return their top hitters in Gonzalez, Harris, and Alderman as well as their top pitchers in Elliot, Dougherty, and Nichols to attempt another run at glory.

Hitters to Watch

With Elliot out due to injury, look for the junior right hander Jack Dougherty to make his first start of the season on Friday. Last season he was used mainly as a reliever, posting a 4.91 ERA with 61 K’s over 44 innings on the mound. Against Delaware, Dougherty pitched 2.1 innings, allowed zero hits, and struck out five of the seven batters he faced.

Also expected to start a game this weekend is the freshman right hander Grayson Saunier. The four-year letterwinner out of Memphis posted a 2.33 ERA with 63 strikeouts over 48 innings during his senior season. In his first collegiate start against Delaware he allowed zero runs and just one hit with five K’s over four innings of work.

Xavier Rivas, the junior lefty transfer from Indianapolis, is another name to watch out for. Last season, he posted a flawless 7-0 record with a 2.24 ERA, 128 K’s, and four complete games. Against Delaware, the Indiana native allowed just one run and struck out eight of the 13 batters he faced.

Pitchers to Watch

Coming off of 2022 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team and First Team All-SEC selections, junior shortstop Jacob Gonzalez is already making noise this year. Last year, Gonzalez was a beast. As a sophomore, he was 1st on the team in runs, 2nd in home runs, 2nd in RBIs, 2nd in OPS, and 3rd in hits including a home run, two RBIs, and two runs in the national title-clinching game against Oklahoma. So far this season, he is already leading his team in RBIs with nine.

Across from Gonzales in the infield is senior second baseman Peyton Chatagnier. The 2020 Collegiate Baseball Freshman All American had a decent 2022, hitting .248 with 11 home runs, 45 RBI’s, 47 runs, and was second on the team with six stolen bases. He has been a powerhouse in the early window leading the Rebels in batting average (.583), hits (7), home runs (2), slugging (1.167), on-base percentage (.625), and OPS (1.729).

Tied for the team lead in hits and home runs is junior Kemp Alderman. Of his 58 starts last season, he was a designated hitter for 52 of them and an outfielder for six. Alderman was very productive in his DH role, finishing second on the team in doubles, tied for third in home runs, fourth in slugging, and fifth in batting average, on-base percentage, and hits. He and Charagnier have almost identical stats on the year, both tied for first in hits and home runs, but Alderman has three more RBI’s going into the series against Maryland.