Mike Bianco's aggressive pitching decisions have shown us that he's serious about bolstering his team's hosting resume in Hoover this week, and Wednesday afternoon's 10-4 win over East champ South Carolina went a long way towards that end. The Rebs are 2-0 in the SEC Tournament.
The hope among Ole Miss fans is that this win will help offset the three-game sweep the Gamecocks scored in Oxford earlier this season. With the two teams' resumes damn near identical, that head-to-head sweep has been the main reason South Carolina is favored in the national seed race.
So does game win change anything?
On one hand, its still three games to one, and I don't think the conference tournament should have too much of a bearing on national seeds anyway. On the other, the Rebs are clearly a better team than the one that got swept back in March, and this win proved it.
How bout that offense?
Some early Gamecocks mistakes helped spot the Rebs a 5-0 lead against ace Clarke Schmidt, but there wasn't anything fluky about this offensive outing. The Rebs banged out 12 hits, none of which traveled farther than this three-run shot by Henri Lartigue to put the game away in the eighth:
Announcer on Lartigue homer: "That guy has been swinging the hammer of Thor all year." Hotty Toddy! https://t.co/Xtl45KDreH— The Rebel Walk (@TheRebelWalk) May 25, 2016
Our favorite Ole Miss physics professor, who once helped us with beer shower calculations, found a way to celebrate at the office.
Lartigue went 4-for-5 on the day, driving in four RBI.
J.B. Woodman reached base on all five trips to the plate, going 2-for-2 with three walks. He also had one hell of a play in center field:
It was a pretty good day on the mound, as well.
After Brady Bramlett was on a 60-pitch limit on short rest against Georgia, I thought we'd see a similarly brief outing from David Parkinson. But Parky lasted 5.2 innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits while striking out six.
Credit Mike Bianco for not sticking with him two long either: as soon as he loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth, Bianco went to Andy Pagnozzi. When Pags ran into a bit of trouble the next inning, Bianco wasted no time going to Will Stokes, who carried it the rest of the way for a three-inning save. Look, I love ragging Bianco for pitcher mismanagement as much as the next guy, but he's done one hell of a job with this young staff this season.
This hosting race tho...
Vandy rallied past A&M in the early game, setting up a 4:30 p.m. showdown with the Rebs on Thursday.
Assuming Ole Miss doesn't get a national seed, that matchup could have major implications in the regional host race, which looks like a three-horse race between Ole Miss, Vandy and LSU. The three teams' resumes are damn near identical and the SEC Tourney hasn't helped separate them so far. All three won elimination games on Tuesday and Ole Miss and Vandy started Wednesday by knocking off top-10 opponents. LSU takes on powerhouse Florida on Wednesday night.