Ole Miss's hopes for a national seed are still alive. They pulled off a 7-2 come-from-behind win over Vanderbilt in an SEC Tournament elimination game, using a big seventh inning to break open a tight game. They now wait for the outcome of South Carolina's elimination game against Florida, which could determine who gets the second national seed out of the SEC.
For a while the Rebs looked intent on blowing the game. In spite of the fact that Vandy ace Tyler Beede -- a probable first-round pick in the upcoming MLB Draft -- handed out five walks and two hit batters, Ole Miss was clinging to a slim 2-1 lead entering the top of the seventh. The old tendency to leave men stranded had reared its familiar head, resulting in a 2-for-20 start with men on base through the first 15 innings of the tournament.
That changed in the top of the seventh after back-to-back hit batsmen and an intentional walk loaded the bases with one out. Auston Bousfield and Austin Anderson strung together consecutive singles to break the scoring open. After the ole "get caught in a pickle to let the man on third score" plated another, the Rebs led 6-1.
Ole Miss flirted with disaster in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases with two outs before Aaron Greenwood beaned a guy to give up a free run. A monster strikeout a batter later allowed him to escape with a 6-2 lead.
Will Allen tacked on with a sac fly to score Bousfield in the top of the ninth. Josh Laxer worked two scoreless innings to close it.
Rebel fans were expecting to see Christian Trent on the mound. Instead they got Jeremy Massie, who gave up one run over 4⅓. No, that wasn't Mike Bianco throwing in the towel. Trent was reportedly experiencing a bit of stiffness while warming up Thursday morning, something Bianco said was "kind of surprise to us."
"Trent would have been pitching on short rest for the second week in a row," Bianco said during the FOX SportSouth telecast. "Yesterday in his normal routine of throwing he still felt some stiffness lingering from last week. Not hurt, nothing to worry about -- just didn't want to push him today."
There's been no word on whether Trent will be available for Friday's game against the loser of LSU and Arkansas.
Who pitches on Friday?
The answer to that question hinges on whether you're playing for a national seed. If South Carolina loses to Florida on Thursday, the Rebs could potentially be playing to clinch a super regional host site on Friday. IF (capitalized for effect) Trent's arm is feeling fine, you could look his way, as he'll be on full rest at that point. The other option would be to bring Sam Smith in on short rest.
The other school of thought says screw the national seed, let's get Trent and Smith some rest heading into the regional. In that case, you probably put Evan Anderson on the mound. If Bianco wasn't playing for a national seed, though, he probably wouldn't have even considered playing Trent on Thursday, much less Chris Ellis on Wednesday.
I'd expect Trent if he's feeling better, Smith if not.