Vanderbilt (26-4, 8-1 SEC) will travel to Oxford, Miss. for a weekend series against the No. 16 Ole Miss Rebels (23-6, 4-5 SEC). After falling to Florida 6-1 on March 22, the Commodores are riding a seven-game winning streak, with their most recent victory coming in the form of a 12-3 win over Middle Tennessee State on Tuesday.
While Vanderbilt has dominated conference play, Ole Miss has battled adversity. The Rebels have lost their last two weekend series, dropping two of three games to both Texas A&M and Florida. In the last two games since its 4-3 extra innings win over Florida on Friday, Ole Miss has failed to score a run.
On Friday, Commodore ace Kevin Ziomek (5-1, 1.89 ERA) will be on the mound. In only seven starts this season, Ziomek has 62 strikeouts and has issued just 15 walks. The southpaw allowed three runs over seven innings of work in his last start against Tennessee and earned a no-decision. Despite the downpour, Ziomek was able to maintain his command, striking out 10 batters and walking one.
Sophomore Tyler Beede (7-0, 0.99 ERA) is expected to get the ball on Saturday for Vanderbilt. Despite walking 31 batters in the young season, Beede has been able to limit the damage, as evidenced by his stellar ERA. In his outing against Tennessee on Saturday, Beede surrendered two runs, striking out nine batters and walking five. Beede has earned a win in all seven of his starts this season.
To wrap up the series on Sunday, left-hander Phil Pfeifer (2-0, 3.86 ERA) is expected to start for the Commodores. Pfeifer lasted only three innings in his last start against Tennessee, picking up a no-decision in Vanderbilt’s 12-8 win. He gave up five earned runs on five hits and struck out two. On Sunday, Pfeifer will look to regain the command that was present in his first two starts for Vanderbilt.
On the other side of the diamond, Ole Miss is still a balanced team. At the plate, the Rebels sport a .286 team batting average and have scored 173 runs this season — good for nearly six per game. Junior catcher Stuart Turner is the team’s deadliest hitter. So far this season, Turner has hit .418 with three home runs and 34 RBI, leading Ole Miss in all three categories.
From a pitching standpoint, the Rebels are also dangerous with a 2.77 team ERA. No. 1 starter Bobby Wahl (6-0, 1.80 ERA) should provide a challenge for the Commodores on Friday night, and closer Brett Huber (2-0, 0.90 ERA) gives Ole Miss a strong punch out of the bullpen with seven saves in 10 appearances.
To continue its SEC dominance over the weekend, Vanderbilt will have to do what it is has done all season: win by any means necessary. With a deep pool of young talent, the Commodores have the personnel to play small ball or enter a slugfest. In this matchup between two of the SEC’s strongest teams, Vanderbilt will need all hands on deck.