Midway through a soggy afternoon in Hoover, Ole Miss, having squandered another fantastic outing from a starting pitcher, looked to be in danger of losing its chance at a national seed in the NCAA Tourney. Georgia had gotten after closer Parker Caracci for three unanswered runs coming out of a rain delay and the Dogs took the mound in the bottom of the tenth with a 4-3 lead.
But Nick Fortes got a lead-off single and Thomas Dillard smashed a double into the right-field corner to tie things up. A pair of unproductive outs failed to move Dillard over, which brought Tim Rowe—who was 0-4 in just his 12th start of the season—to the plate.
The game-winner from @RoweThatBoat24. #HottyToddy pic.twitter.com/P9N8FHroBR— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) May 24, 2018
Rowe’s seeing-eye single through the right side brought Dillard around to score, the Rebel dugout spilling out on the field and potentially the first two rounds of the NCAA Tourney to Oxford.
A loss wouldn’t have been a death sentence for Ole Miss’ national seed hopes, but it would have dropped the Rebs out of the top 10 in the RPI and put them behind Arkansas and probably Georgia in the SEC pecking order. If results in other conference tournaments had prompted the selection committee to tab three SEC teams instead of four, the Rebs may very well have been the odd man out (Florida will probably be the tourney’s top overall seed).
Instead, the win bumps the Rebs up to No. 8 in the RPI and gives them a 10-4 record against RPI top 25 opponents. Pile that onto an SEC West title, an 18-12 regular season conference mark and 43 overall wins and you have a bonafide top-eight resume. To top it off, the win makes Ole Miss 3-1 against UGA this season—which would make it hard for the committee to pick the Dogs over the Rebs if it came down to that.
For reference, here’s how the top of the RPI chart sits as of Thursday afternoon:
Next up for the Rebs is a Friday elimination game against the winner of Texas A&M and Auburn, the latter of which beat Ole Miss in their opening game of the tourney on Wednesday. You can check out the full Hoover bracket here.