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SEC Baseball Tournament: South Carolina Gamecocks vs Ole Miss Rebels, 3 Keys

After taking care of the Georgia Bulldogs, the Ole Miss Rebels will grapple with our South Carolina Gamecocks.

The Big Spur

The Ole Miss Rebels easily dispatched the Bulldogs of Georgia and advanced on to play the South Carolina Gamecocks at approximately 2 PM ET (or 30 minutes after the conclusion of Texas A&M vs Vanderbilt). Let's take a look at some keys to this game.

Get Off to a Good Start: Our struggles in Hoover recently are well documented. A great way to rid ourselves of those demons would be to bring hot bats to ballpark this afternoon. John Jones needs to keep working his way out of his funk, Dom Thompson-Williams and Gene Cone need to do their thing, and the rest of our lineup needs to follow suit. The leaders in the lineup will set the tone for our stay in Hoover. The setting of whatever the tone may be begins today.

Make Ole Miss Use Their Bullpen: Coach Bianco will be pitching the Rebel's Saturday starter David Parkinson on four days rest. Ole Miss is clearly not approaching today's game lightly. It appears that Parkinson has made his way into the rotation after beginning the year in the bullpen. In the Friday night matchup earlier in the year, Parkinson threw 4.1 innings of relief against the Gamecocks. Parkinson gave up 1 run on 5 hits and 4 walks. The Gamecocks, with Parkinson pitching on short rest, need to get to him early and bounce him from the bullpen. The Rebels likely won't have a couple of their options available out of the bullpen as they were used in the win Tuesday over the Bulldogs.

Command the Game: It goes without saying, but the Gamecock pitching stuff must come to play. I expect Clarke Schmidt will get the nod. Clarke needs to bring his A-game against this potent Ole Miss lineup. The Gamecocks did a very good job against the Rebels early in the year as they held them to 6 runs over 3 games. But Ole Miss is playing much better baseball than they were back in March. Clarke needs to be aggressive, throw strikes and, preferably, go 7 or 8 innings to save the bullpen.

Prediction: While the Gamecocks swept the Rebels earlier in the year, beating them a 4th straight time will be a tall task. However, I do think we have the better team and are playing with a supreme level of confidence. I expect a tight game tomorrow, but I think the Gamecocks will put out a close win.