Vampire Weekend has a fantastic record titled “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance” that delves into the undertones of four-year institutions and how it just feeds a proverbial assembly line of future financial analysts and attorneys and consultants of all walks of life.
This weekend wasn’t about all that, but the kids were ultimately deemed doom by most before it got started, self included. But, man, they proved us all wrong.
No. 1 Louisville, equipped with practically their entire lineup returning and a top-10 pick on the mound on Friday, strolled into Swayze Field with an endearing amount of swagger. And for good reason. They did finish third overall in Omaha a year ago and have won four ACC titles in the last five seasons.
So, yeah, understandable to be confident.
Ole Miss (2-1) was looking to replace their Friday starter and most of their lineup that was carried by the No. 1 recruiting class from 2016 that has since departed and headed off to their respective pro baseball destinations.
Fast forward to Sunday afternoon and the Rebs stole two-of-three from the visiting Cardinals via newcomer impacts aplenty and veterans stepping up to the plate, literally and figuratively. The back-ended series victory moved Ole Miss to a dominant 5-0 under Mike Bianco at Swayze Field against No. 1 teams.
After dropping game one, 7-2, the Rebs fought back and won two tight games by a combined score of 16-12 on the backs of clutch hitting and a piece-milled bullpen that is still recovering from the loss of Tyler Myers to Tommy John surgery. It might just be one weekend but it was a testament to the intrigue and potential of this team that is full of newcomers ranging from junior college transfers to true freshmen (nine of the 14 position players on Sunday are in their first season in Oxford).
And speaking of youth movement, did we mention how the game on Sunday ended?
Not a big deal, just a true freshman closing out the nation’s top team by completing the second half of a strike-em-out-throw-em-out FROM HIS KNEES.
Sure, there will be some head-scratchers and some depth issues due to inexperience, but this team seems to not flinch at adversity and will be a fun bunch to follow this season.
3 things that we liked from the weekend
Cael Fucking Baker
The former junior college Triple Crown winner burst onto the scene like the bank heist from Fast Five. The 6’0, 260-pounder had himself quite the Swayze debut this weekend, going 4-for-4 on Saturday with two bombs.
The first one was absolutely murdered.
And so was the second one.
“Have yourself a day, Cael Baker!” He gets his second homer of the game! pic.twitter.com/IYX67Z9k6I— The Rebel Walk (@TheRebelWalk) February 15, 2020
The new fan favorite is hitting .417 after the first weekend, slugging 1.000, and has a team-high five RBI’s. The big fella appears poised to be the big bopper that the Rebs need after losing Thomas Dillard and Cole Zabowski from the 2019 squad and MY GOD we are here for the Kenny Powers memes.
Ole Miss’ new starting 1B Cael Baker looks just like Kenny Powers and you can’t convince me otherwise pic.twitter.com/Z2TbMO7I8T— Tucker Italiano (@TuckerItaliano) February 14, 2020
Anthony Servideo looks more than ready to take over at short stop.
Mr. Bombshell was as good as advertised this weekend after receiving a ton of preseason hype from Mike Bianco. The Rebel short stop leads the team in hitting after the first weekend (.500) and has a ridiculous .643 on-base percentage.
He also absolutely deleted a baseball on Sunday that sparked the comeback to take the series away from the Cardinals.
B5 | @ServideoAnthony cuts the deficit with a high fly ball into the student section for a two-run ! #RebsBSB— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) February 16, 2020
The Ant-Man is on !
Louisville 3, Ole Miss 2
Go ‘head, young blood, pimp that one.
The Sunshine State playmaker was the quintessential leadoff guy over the weekend, drawing three walks and a hit by pitch. His ability to work deep into counts will be a key cog for this young offense to get things going against the elite arms they will be facing all season long.
The California kids were impressive.
Doug Nikhazy and Gunnar Hoglund are known commodities around these parts, but Derek Diamond and Wes Burton aim to earn respect this season on the bump. Diamond (No. 50 overall) and Burton both made their way to Oxford via the Golden State and were expected to contribute but mostly due to there being plenty of holes left after Will Ethridge and key bullpen pieces leaving.
On Sunday, they were impressive. Diamond started and despite getting chased 5.2 innings, he was effective and really pushed the pace with his plus stuff. Burton came to his relief and hurled 2.1 innings of no hit baseball and was damn near nuclear on the rubber and dripping with swagger.
Both were seemingly battling for that Sunday starter role, but if the Rebels can roll them out there as a 1-2 punch to win series this season, that’s as good a duo as any for a couple teenagers pitching in their first year in the Southeastern Conference.
The good guys return to action on Tuesday when the Red Wolves of Arkansas State come to town. First pitch is at 4pm CST.
Ezra Koenig and company didn’t have the 2020 Rebels in mind when they were writing that record back in 2008, but the kids bucked the trend this weekend and took their chance and ran with it, sealing a huge series win that kicks off the season with a bang.