The Rebel Alliance was strong with the force on Wednesday night, blasting Arkansas-Pine Bluff like Luke Skywalker used to bullseye womp rats with his T-16 back home on Tatooine. Ole Miss defeated the Golden Lions 12-1 on, you guessed it, Star Wars night at Swayze Field. From the padawan younglings poking each other's eyes out with the free lightsabers to the jumbotron photoshops, the production staff blew the Death Star out of the park.
Let's meet some of our heroes.
Tate BlackHan Solo
Chad Smith had a great outing with 11 Ks, 2 BBs, 4 Hs and 1 R in seven innings of work. Sure the Lions are nowhere near elite, but double digit strikeouts in any outing is something of note, especially if there's a Chewbacca growl after each one. Smith will be sticking to the midweek rotation for now, but assuming Bramlett will be heading to the big leagues next year, one can't help but think about the role Chad might fulfill next season as either a midweek starter or back on the mound during the weekend.
The best part, though, was that because UAPB didn't send in player photos, Ole Miss just used Storm Troopers.
Per SEC Network, when Ole Miss asked UAPB's head coach whether that was cool with him, his response was along the lines of "That's fine, as long as I get to be Darth Vader." Kudos to these guys being such good sports about this whole hilariously odd night.
The Force is Gone
Even the SEC Network guys got in on the light saber action.
Stormtroopers in the outfield
Damn Yellow Cup, is your losing reputation so disgraceful that even intergalactic bounty hunters are bringing you down for corn dog payments? I knew pod racing was a joke when it came to relegation but these cup races are getting out of hand.
Boba Fett outchea bountying up on yellow cup. What's he worth? Umpteen corn dogs? Got eeeeeem pic.twitter.com/abS4g4g8Q1— Smeargle (@smeargleRCR) May 5, 2016
Other than that, though, Bobba and the troopers seemed like pretty chill bros.
A defection to the Dark Side
Coincidence that on national Star Wars Day, Mike Bianco's own son announces his commitment to LSU's evil empire? I've got a bad feeling about this.
All jokes aside, Coach Bianco, who won his 400th career home game on Wednesday, continues to make history at Swayze... yet some people still want him fired. Has Bianco hit his ceiling at Ole Miss? Could Ross Bjork hire someone better without gaining a reputation as a program that doesn't settle for 36-win seasons in the toughest conference in America and hosting regionals? With the recruiting trail staying hot and major player facility renovations coming to Swayze, I don't see Coach B going anywhere.
Will the Rebel Alliance host on its home planet?
Now with 34 wins and ten games left to play (including SEC series against Georgia, Kentucky and Texas A&M), a 40-win regular season looks to be very much within reach. Pair that with a top-10 RPI and it looks like Ole Miss could earn a host site during the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Baseball America and D1 Baseball currently project Ole Miss to host a regional. A national seed, however, still seems like a reach: I reckon the Rebs would need to lose only one more regular season game PLUS make a deep push in the SEC tourney. Possible? SURE WHY NOT? Likely? Nahhhh.
Farewell to an old friend
I didn't do anything special this week for the midweek game, just grilling up some wings and marinated chicken tenders. But, there was a bit of a sending off ceremony with this particular grill considering a new left field terrace is expected to be completed with the Swayze renovations by next season. Associate Director of Athletics Stephen Ponder has already announced the plan will be to raise the left field terrace and move it closer to the outfield wall. This change sounds great to me, I could always go for a shorter distance for my heckling to travel! However, this could mean that my trusty left field grill might have just seen its last midweek charcoal. Rest In Pieces.
The Rebs hit the road at UGA this weekend, then wrap up regular season play at Swayze against a once-ranked but now struggling Kentucky team. Kentucky will be fresh off a (likely) beatdown against South Carolina the previous weekend, so maybe Ole Miss can take advantage of a downtrodden Wildcat team before heading to College Station to take a top-five Texas A&M.
Will the Force continue to awaken the lightsaber bats of the Jedi Rebel Knights? Or will the Dark Side squelch the Rebels' push to host a regional on their home planet of Swayze?