Up until the point that Henri Lartigue's red-hot bat smoked a ninth-inning pitch, Ole Miss appeared to destined for another disappointing Game 3 finish. The Rebs had knocked off Kentucky on Thursday and Friday to position themselves for a regional host bid, but likely needed to win one of their final four SEC games to be safe. With three of those games coming on the road against No. 2 Texas A&M, there were no guarantees.
But Lartigue's scorcher had carry... just enough to sneak over the right field wall. Three-run jack. What had been a 5-0 Kentucky lead five innings earlier was abruptly a 7-5 Rebel walkoff.
Swayze Field, which will almost certainly host an NCAA Tournament regional now, lost its damn mind.
Here's the radio call from a very excited David Kellum.
THROW IT UP, MISSISSIPPI! #HOTTYTODDY pic.twitter.com/BZtq7aIyqX— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) May 15, 2016
Thursday: Ole Miss 3, Kentucky 1 (box score)
Friday: Ole Miss 14, Kentucky 2 (box score)
Saturday: Ole Miss 7, Kentucky 5 (box score)
3 big takeaways
1. Ole Miss is suddenly in play to host a super.
While the Rebs were busy winning their fourth straight SEC series, a few of the key teams in the national seed race were losing. South Carolina, Florida State and NC State—all of which were projected in the top eight by D1 Baseball heading into the weekend—lost series. That opens the door for Ole Miss, which has a monster opportunity to bolster its argument in College Station next weekend.
The Rebs' best chance at this point is probably to slip past South Carolina, which lost two of three to A&M over the weekend.
At this pt for me last top 8 spot is between Ole Miss & South Carolina. LSU, Vandy can get into discussion. Big games today for 3 of them— Mark Etheridge (@ethmark) May 15, 2016
I personally don't see it happening. The Gamecocks have a half-game advantage in conference record, are only two spots back in the RPI rankings (No. 5 vs. No. 7) and, ya know, swept Ole Miss earlier this season. The only opening is if South Carolina loses on the road in Tuscaloosa this weekend and the Rebs take down A&M.
2. It's probably time for another change at the back of the rotation.
Lost in the excitement of the Saturday rally was the reason that the Rebs were having to climb out of a hole in the first place. James McArthur lasted just 2.1 innings, getting yanked after allowing five earned runs on a pair of multi-run jacks. The freshman has yet to make it longer than 3.1 frames in any of his three SEC starts and he carries a 10.00 ERA over that span.
Ole Miss has to figure out a third starter (not to mention a fourth) heading into the NCAA Tournament, and it's starting to look like its not McArthur. I'd say the leading candidate is probably Andy Pagnozzi, who had a nice three-inning relief outing on Friday. Yes, that pulls a key long reliever, but Mike Bianco has plenty of depth in his bullpen.
3. Congrats, grads.
Yea, it was also graduation weekend. Guess who song the National Anthem at commencement?
.@bradyb2821 with one of best renditions of National Anthem this morning during graduation commencement. @olemissbsb pic.twitter.com/w5M3cqNJIB— OleMissPix (@OleMissPix) May 14, 2016
After some quality Bama shit-talking during the commencement address, Tom Brokaw threw on a powder blue hat and rolled over to Swayze.
Tom Brokaw trolled #RollTide during his #HottyToddy graduation speech pic.twitter.com/rL7ZlY9c65— Glennis Curry (@GlennisCurry) May 15, 2016
OleMissPixLIVE: Mr. Tom Brokaw (@tombrokaw) with the Fins Up for @OleMissBSB. Hotty Toddy to you sir! @SEC pic.twitter.com/nYkHqgvQvj— OleMissPix (@OleMissPix) May 14, 2016
Tuesday: at Arkansas State in Jonesboro
Thursday-Saturday: at Texas A&M in College Station