FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – It will be dueling freshmen again in the Fayetteville Super Regional, this time with Omaha and the College World Series on the line.
Right-hander Gunnar Hoglund will start for Ole Miss and will oppose Arkansas left-hander Patrick Wicklander.
Coaches usually consider a game of this magnitude to be “all hands on deck” for pitchers.
However, with the first two games of the series being lopsided wins – first 11-2 for Arkansas, then 13-5 for Ole Miss – the top-level relievers from both bullpens haven’t been used.
Ole Miss set-up man Austin Miller loosened up for a possible appearance Sunday, but when the Rebels stretched the lead to 11-5 in the sixth inning he was never called upon as Houston Roth threw four scoreless innings behind Doug Nikhazy. Roth allowed only two hits and didn’t walk a batter.
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco liked what he saw from Roth.
“I thought he was really sharp today. He’s pitched really well down the stretch for us. That’s as good as I’ve seen him against a really good offense,” Bianco said.
Ole Miss closer Parker Caracci hasn’t thrown nor has center fielder Ryan Olenek, who saved the last regular season game and the first game of the SEC Tournament.
The Rebels also have left-hander Zack Phillips, the non-conference starter during the regular season and a Tearkana, Arkansas native.
“They’ve got a bunch of guys who haven’t thrown either. It should make for a really good game tomorrow,” Bianco said.
Arkansas relievers Matt Cronin (2.00 ERA, 12 saves) and Jacob Kostyshock (2.89 ERA, 28 IP) have not been used, nor has veteran Cody Scroggins, who has seven starts and could for several innings if necessary.
“I feel good about who we have in the bullpen. We used Kevin (Kopps) today, because we got it to 8-5 and had a chance to get back into it. We’ve got most everybody left, as does Ole Miss,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said.
Ole Miss has seen Wicklander twice this season. He lasted just a third of an inning giving up two hits and two walks when the Rebels won here on March 31.
He pitched 4 1/3 innings against Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament allowing two hits, a walk and two runs, both earned.
Hoglund last three innings against Arkansas on March 31 giving up three hits and two runs, both earned.
Bianco says the Rebels are confident.
“They don’t look nervous. They look like a team that’s won four or five in a row. Somewhere in the SEC Tournament we found that. In the most pressure-packed parts of the game they do look loose, and they play with a lot of confidence.”