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Right Field Review: Ole Miss' hosting chances take a hit in Tuscaloosa

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The Rebs dropped the back two after beating Bama on Friday, marking yet another series loss to a top-50 RPI team.

Josh McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics

It wasn't that long ago that college baseball experts like Aaron Fitt and Kendall Rogers were discussing Ole Miss as a possible host team in the tournament. But after this weekend's setback in Tuscaloosa—the Rebs' third series loss in their last four series—it might be time to officially bury that idea.

Ole Miss' RPI is still a fantastic No. 7 thanks to the ninth most difficult schedule in the country, but just playing tough teams isn't enough. The Rebs are 6-9 against other top 50 RPI clubs and their only SEC series wins have come against two of the bottom three teams in the conference: Arkansas (4-11, last in the West) and Tennessee (4-11, second to last in the East). Ole Miss has only won one three-game series against a top 50 RPI club, and even that weekend against Louisville felt a bit flukey after ace pitcher Kyle Funkhouser melted down on Friday.

Technically, there's still plenty of time to turn that around—Ole Miss has LSU (No. 13 RPI), Kentucky (22) and A&M (4) left on the schedule. But given the continuing problems at the plate and in the back end of the rotation, a strong run looks unlikely.

Not that being a No. 2 in someone else's regional is all that bad. In last week's field of 64 projections, Baseball America had the Rebs going to Hattiesburg with Louisiana-Lafayette and Creighton. Um, yes please. USM dropped a series at UAB over the weekend, but could make up for it with upcoming series against C-USA top dogs Rice and FAU.

Scores

Friday: Ole Miss 4, Bama 0 (box score)
Saturday: Bama 2, Ole Miss 0 (box score)
Sunday: Bama 7, Ole Miss 2 (box score)

3 big takeaways

1. So yea, the offense really is bad.

The bats had come flying back to life against Arkansas last weekend, but that was against the worst pitching staff in the SEC. In the weekend preview, I asked if "the offense is really turning a corner, or just facing bad pitching?"

It looks like we have our answer after the Rebs struggled to put runs on the board against Bama (who's staff 3.19 ERA ranks fifth in the conference). If you take away the Arkansas series, Ole Miss is hitting .227 and scoring just 3.4 runs per SEC game.

2. Friday and Saturday pitching is gravy.

With all of the drama going on in the rotation behind him, it feels like Brady Bramlett's spectacular season has been somewhat overlooked. He was lights out again on Friday, allowing just three hits and holding Bama off the score board during a six-inning gem. Bramlett's ERA has dipped down to 2.19 (2.22 in SEC play) and he ranks in the conference's top eight in ERA, opponent batting average, strikeouts and wins.

David Parkinson, who made his second straight Saturday start, was just as good. He went seven innings, fanning five and scattering six hits in about as tough luck of a loss as you can get. He's allowed just two runs in 12.1 innings during this two starts.

Bramlett and Parkinson look capable of playing with anyone in the country. The problem, of course, is at the third spot.

3. Sunday starting is still a problem.

Mike Bianco had to call on Wyatt Short for a two-inning save to secure Friday's win, which means we were stuck with Sean Johnson starting in Game 3. Sean John only allowed one run, but labored early and often, allowing seven baserunners in his four innings of work. The wheels came all the way off in the next inning after Bianco put in Andy Pagnozzi, who promptly allowed three runs before getting yanked with just one out recorded. In all, the fifth ended up being a six-run inning for Bama.

I'd expect this was our last time seeing Johnson start, at least for a while—he's obviously not healed up from Tommy John surgery.

Around the SEC

Weekend results
  • No. 4 A&M swept No. 2 State
  • No. 3 Florida swept Arkansas
  • No. 8 Vandy took two of three from No. 18 Kentucky
  • No. 12 LSU took two of three from Mizzou
  • Georgia took two of three from No. 6 South Carolina
  • Auburn took two of three from Tennessee
Standings
EAST
Team SEC Games back Overall
Florida 11-4 - 33-5
South Carolina 11-4 - 29-8
Vanderbilt 9-6 2 28-8
Kentucky 9-6 2 23-12
Georgia 6-9 5 20-17
Tennessee 4-11 7 20-16
Missouri 4-11 7 20-18
WEST
Team SEC Games Back Overall
Texas A&M 10-5 - 29-7
LSU 9-6 1 25-11
Mississippi State 8-7 2 24-12-1
Alabama 8-7 2 22-14
Ole Miss 7-8 3 26-10
Auburn 5-10 5 17-19
Arkansas 4-11 6 21-15

On deck

Tuesday: at Memphis in AutoZone Park
Wednesday: vs. Murray State in Oxford
Friday-Sunday: vs. Auburn in Oxford

Full schedule