Last week in Ole Miss baseball was nothing if not exciting. During a 5-0 week that included two midweek games over Louisiana-Monroe and a weekend sweep of UCF, the Diamond Rebs strung together four consecutive walkoff wins, two of which came in extra innings. Never before in the history of the program had the Rebels won four consecutive games by a margin of one run. Not until Sunday did they finally provide a respite for our collective blood pressure, easing to a 9-2 win to finish off UCF.
On one hand, it's encouraging to see a team that has the ability to battle back and handle late-game pressure. On the other, should we really be having this much trouble with middling non-conference teams? Deepening that concern is the fact that every one of the walkoffs was fostered very directly by late-inning defensive mishaps from the opponents, particularly the two wins over ULM. So while we're plenty excited about this 11-1 start, we at the Cup still have our share of doubts about this team's ability to compete in the SEC.
Last week: 5-0
Baseball America: 25 (previous: NR)
Collegiate Baseball: 18 (25)
NCBWA: Not released yet
Tuesday: Ole Miss 5, Louisiana-Monroe 4
Ole Miss entered the ninth down 4-2, but got bailed out by a complete defensive collapse on the part of ULM. A walk, a weak blooper just over the outstretched glove of the second baseman and a hit batter loaded the bases with one out. Dalton Dulin then grounded into what looked like a game-ending double play, but was able to beat out the throw to first and allow Colby Bortles to score to tie the game. Braxton Lee then chopped a grounder to short, but a low throw skipped away from the first baseman and the Rebs walked off with the win.
Wednesday: Ole Miss 4, Louisiana-Monroe 3
Monroe made the mistake of throwing a guy named Tyler Bray. Literally the only pitch he threw in the game rocketed off the bat of Will Allen for a walkoff single with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Jeremy Massie worked five hitless innings and freshman Cheyne Bickel picked up the win out of the pen.
Friday: Ole Miss 4, UCF 3 (13 innings)
John Gatlin ended a four and half hour ordeal with an infield single RBI in the bottom of the 13th. Gatlin, who missed the entirety of last season with a broken foot, was able to beat out the throw to first after the third baseman allowed a grounder to careen off his chest. The Rebs had plenty of chances to end the game prior to that point, but left runners scattered across the bases over the last four innings. Hitting into double plays is becoming a problem: UCF turned to in the ninth, 11th and 12th innings. While most of the bullpen was dominant, Aaron Greenwood continued to suck. He took over after another great start from Chris Ellis with the game tied at one, but immediately -- and predictably -- allowed UCF to jump out to a 3-1 lead. He's not a closer, Bianco. Stop it.
Saturday: Ole Miss 5, UCF 4 (10 innings)
Allen doubled down on his walkoffs for the week, this time crushing a solo shot to dead center in the bottom of the 10th and bringing down a deluge of beer in right field. Christian Trent struggled a bit, giving up all four runs on six hits, but kept it together long enough to last 7.1 innings. Preston Tarkington and Wyatt Short combined to keep UCF off the board over the final three innings.
Sunday: Ole Miss 9, UCF 2
The Rebs finally cut out the whole dramatic ending bit, jumping out to a four-run lead in the first inning and never looking back. Auston Bousfield went 3-of-4, J.B. Woodman went 2-of-3 and seven different Rebs recorded RBIs. Sam "Sunday Sizzle" Smith picked up his second win of the season giving up four hits and no runs over six innings. Both runs came against Scott Weathersby in the ninth.
Past the foul pole
- The Right Fielders were a little quick on the draw Saturday, sending up a premature beer shower when a fifth-inning shot from Allen hit mid-way up the right-center wall. We call this "Bradley Sowell-ing." Allen gave them a redemptive opportunity five innings later with his walkoff homer.
- Right fielder Erik Barber flipped over to left field on Saturday. We at the Cup have been told by sources within the UCF dugout (no, we haven't) that the switch had nothing to do with coaching decisions and was instead the result of incessant "Erik has a mangina" chants on Friday night. The move only serves to validate the allegations of the aforementioned chant.
2014 Chase for the Cups
Blue Cup won both mid-week races, pushing him to 6-0 on the season and fostering rumors of PED (plastic-enriching drugs) usage. It looked like Blue had extended his streak on Sunday, but a disqualification handed Red his first W of the season. Red went on the sweep the weekend.
Tweet of the week
March 5: vs. Memphis
March 7-9: vs. Arkansas-Little Rock