The Ole Miss baseball team will be battling the odds when it takes on Louisiana-Lafayette at 6 p.m. today in the game three of the NCAA Super Regional.
The Rebels beat ULL, 5-2, Sunday night to force today's game three.
The Rebels have struggled to break through in four Super Regionals over the last decade. Ole Miss won the first game in three of those series, only to collapse in the final two.
However, this is the first Ole Miss team to follow a loss with a victory in a Super Regional.
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The Rebels haven't been to the College World Series since 1972, when baseball was lightly regarded on the national stage.
While history hasn't been kind to Ole Miss at this stage in the postseason, possibly the most difficult aspect to overcome is ULL's resilience this season.
The Ragin' Cajuns (58-9) haven't lost consecutive games all year.
Ole Miss will also have to contend with a starting pitcher, Cody Boutte, who hasn't lost a game all season.
The left-handed Boutte is 9-0 in 15 starts. He has a 3.09 ERA with 54 strikeouts compared to 26 walks.
“He's been good for us,” ULL coach Tony Robichaux said. “In all of his games, we've scored runs. Hopefully, that will play itself out. The guys always play well behind him. He's been one of our hottest pitchers down the stretch.”
Ole Miss is 16-5 against left-handed starting pitching this season.
Ole Miss will counter with junior right-hander Sam Smith, who will be pitching in front of friends and family today at Moore Field. He is a Lake Charles, La., native.
Smith is 5-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 16 starts. He doesn't strike out many batters, 47, but he's shown good control with just 18 walks in 87 2/3 innings.
“Sam has been so consistent pitching in the Sunday role,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “He's a guy that usually gets us into the middle or late innings. He keeps us in the game. He had a no decision (in the Oxford Regional title game), but he pitched terrific.”
Smith lasted 4 2/3 innings, giving up no earned runs on six hits in a 3-2 victory over Washington last time out.