OLE MISS

Rebels Open With Grundy in SEC Tourney

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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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