Well this game was frustrating as all hell to watch. Once up 10-0 over Vandy after a spectacular five-inning start from freshman James McArthur, Ole Miss allowed nine runs over the final four innings and burned four bullpen arms, including star closer Wyatt Short. The Rebs held on for a 12-9 win, but this thing was a lot more stressful than it should have been.
Hell, Ole Miss was three outs from run-ruling this game at one point. In an effort to preserve arms for the postseason, the SEC implements a 10-run rule after six innings in Hoover. Up 10-0 entering the top of the sixth with McArthur dealing, the Rebs looked like they'd be able to end it early and preserve some bullpen arms.
But McArthur finally hit the wall and gave up three runs. Things got ugly over the next few innings. Connor Green and Andy Pagnozzi sputtered and had to be replaced. Brady Feigl looked like he finally had things under control after recording outs against two of the first three batters in the ninth, but loaded the bases before allowing them to clear on a triple.
In came Short, who allowed another run to cross the plate before finally, mercifully ending the game with a groundout.
On the plus side, the win earns Ole Miss the day off on Friday to rest some of those arms.
But hell, we'll take it.
As stressful as it was, this win makes the Rebs 3-0 in Hoover. That's a big deal for a team locked in an impossibly tight race with Vandy, LSU and South Carolina for a host spot in the NCAA Tourney. You have to figure this W probably solidifies the Rebs in front of the 'Dores, which already had a slightly weaker resume coming in
With South Carolina losing earlier in the day to go two-and-through, the Rebs might even be climbing back into the national seed race. If Ole Miss and LSU can keep winning in Hoover, either of them could end up jumping the Gamecocks for the fourth SEC spot. The Rebs beat the Tigers two out of three in the regular season, which could be a potential difference maker.
How bout James McArthur?
If you told me before this game that one pitcher would have allowed nine runs through five innings and the other would be tossing a shutout, I'd have put a lot of money on Vandy being in the lead. The 'Dores started Friday night ace Jordan Sheffield, a potential MLB first-rounder. Mike Bianco, after throwing his top two starters on short rest earlier this week, was forced to matchup with McArthur, a freshman with a 10.00 ERA over his last three conference starts.
But big Tex was fantastic through the first five frames, allowing just three hits and striking out three. If he and Chad Smith can keep up the work they've each done over the past week, Ole Miss has found its third and fourth starters for the NCAA Tourney.