A 5-1 win last night and a 7-3 win on Saturday have given Ole Miss (30-12, 12-8) the series win over the 13th-ranked Gamecocks of South Carolina at Swayze Field this weekend. The Rebs and Cocks are playing two on Saturday, so Ole Miss will be going for the sweep tonight at six.
Gunnar Hoglund and Doug Nikhazy cooked on the mound per usual in their starts, and Derek Diamond, Taylor Broadway and Tyler Myers looked good out of the pen in the two Rebel wins.
I’ll be talking more about this tomorrow, but what’s big about this series win is that if the season ended today, Ole Miss would likely be a regional host. With the NCAA releasing its 20 possible hosting sites on May 10 with the seeding coming on selection Sunday, Ole Miss being in that mix is very important. The national seed window is very, very slim if it’s open at all, but as one of my friends told me last night, Ole Miss likely has to hit all green lights in order for them to secure that.
That means winning every series left on the schedule including Vandy at home and hope for some sweeps along the way. Even then, it may be a long shot.
A regional host, however, isn’t, and with Ole Miss having two of the best starting pitchers in the country on their staff, if they could advance out of the regional round, they’d have a real fighting chance in a road super regional. History also shows that being a national seed isn’t necessary for the Rebels to get to Omaha. In 2014, the Mike Bianco’s squad went to Louisiana-Lafayette (now known as “Louisiana” because, sure) and took two of three from the Cajuns to punch their ticket to Nebraska.
Obviously, hosing a super regional is an added bonus, especially with the home field advantage that Swayze provides, but it’s not absolutely crucial.
It’s also important to note that this team continues to hit even in Tim Elko’s absence, although he’s supposedly available to swing the bat even with his torn ACL now. We’ll see if he makes an appearance this weekend or in the coming days. Ole Miss leads the SEC in batting average, and if they can figure out the bullpen situation, this team can still be dangerous down the stretch.
Anyway, I digress. This is a big series win over a nationally-ranked opponent to get back on track, and the Rebels are now winners of three-straight games dating back to the wild comeback against LSU last Saturday.
Game three against South Carolina is scheduled for tonight at 6 p.m. on SEC Network as the Rebs look for the sweep.