I know, I know, we haven't done a Right Field Review in forever. But trust me, you haven't missed much. Outside of a home series win over then-No. 1 Florida, Ole Miss baseball has been on a precipitous slide since SEC play opened four weeks ago. That slide picked up speed over the weekend as the Rebels dropped two of three against a Tennessee team that came into the series dead-last in the conference with a 2-7 mark in league play.
Things got off to a great start on Friday with the offense erupting for 10 runs, the Rebs' highest total since the second weekend of the season. Christian Trent had a solid three-run, six-inning and outing and despite a sketchy finish by the bullpen -- Tennessee came into the top of the ninth down by five but managed to put the tying run at the plate before Wyatt Short came in to put an end to the rally -- the Rebs held on for a three-run win.
But then the offense dried up, the gloves sprung holes and the Rebs dropped the other two games. Ole Miss had as many errors as it had runs on Saturday and Sunday (five), losing 6-3 and 4-2.
Combine this with last week's series loss in Fayetteville, and Mike Bianco's club has lost consecutive series to division bottom-feeders. Coming into their respective weekends against Ole Miss, the Hogs and Vols had a combined 3-12 conference record. This Rebel team still has the talent to beat anyone in the country on a given weekend (see: that homestand against the Gators), but it's time to admit that week in and week out, they're excruciating mediocre.
Friday: Ole Miss 10, Tennessee 7
Saturday: Tennessee 6, Ole Miss 3
Sunday: Tennessee 4, Ole Miss 2
4 big takeaways
1. The postseason is slowly getting shakier.
Last week's Perfect Game projections had Ole Miss well within the field of 64, and even after the Tennessee losses and a slip from 19 to 38 in the Warren Nolan RPI, that won't change this week. But if the Rebs, who are now 16-16 and 5-7 in conference, continue to lose at this pace, that will change.
2. The offense was beastly on Friday...
Not only did the Rebel bats tally 13 hits in Game 1, a lot of those hits came in the clutch.
Tonight, @OleMissBSB was 6-for-14 with two outs, 7-for-20 with runners on and 4-for-11 with runners in scoring position. #RebsBSB— Adam Kuffner (@ARebelKuffner) April 4, 2015
Freshman second baseman Will Golsan had a career night, going 3-for-5 with four RBI. Sikes Orvis, Colby Bortles and J.B. Woodman, a trio we've been waiting on to wake up and carry the lineup, combined for six hits, four RBI and just one strikeout.
3. ... and awful the other two days.
Just when you thought the bats were coming around, they disappeared again. Ole Miss hit just .172 on Saturday and Sunday and inevitably started leaving runners in scoring position. Down 4-1 in the bottom of the seventh in the rubber game, the Rebs had the bases loaded with no outs. A groundout and consecutive strikeouts later, they managed to walk off the field with just one run. So much for that clutch hitting.
4. Will Stokes isn't a bad Sunday option.
Sure, that first start against Florida didn't go too well, but the freshman pitcher has put up decent outings in each of his last two Sunday starts. After a three-run, 4.2-inning game against Arkansas, Stokes allowed just two earned runs (errors accounted for another two) in 5.2 innings against Tennessee. Those numbers aren't great, but they're sure as hell an improvement over Sam Smith's. The important thing is that Stokes has at least given Ole Miss a fighting chance in his last two outings, which is all we can ask on Sundays at this point.