Last weekend wasn’t great, but Ole Miss managed to find itself in the list of 20 potential regional host sites this week ahead of its series with the Vanderbilt Commodores at Swayze Field.
Gunnar Hoglund is done for the year with a torn UCL, so Doug Nikhazy is back on Friday nights for the foreseeable future. Derek Diamond will take the ball on Saturday with Drew McDaniel going on Sunday. And, boy, they’ve got a challenge this weekend in their pitching counterparts.
Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter, two arms that will almost certainly be taken in the first round of this summer’s MLB draft, will take the ball on Friday and Saturday respectively for the Dores in what will likely be the best one-two tandem the Rebel bats have faced on a weekend this season.
Vandy enters the weekend ranked No. 2 in the nation by D1Baseball (Ole Miss is at No. 18 for comparison), and they are 35-10 overall and 16-7 in conference play. Outside of Arkansas, Vanderbilt has the best resume in the Southeastern Conference at this point of the season.
Back to the regional host possibility, Ole Miss needs to make some noise these last two weekends if they want to host a regional next month. Getting Vanderbilt at home (a free shot at a really good baseball team) and then traveling to Athens to face Georgia is what awaits the Rebs in the remainder of the regular season.
If Ole Miss could win both series, I think you feel pretty good about getting a host spot. Or even taking one from Vandy and sweeping Georgia, but getting a sweep on the road without Gunnar Hoglund in your rotation will be difficult.
Still, a host site is there for the taking if Ole Miss can capitalize. Here are the 20 predetermined sites that the NCAA released on Friday.
Back to the weekend at hand. Here are the pitching matchups for the weekend as well as where the games will be televised and such as that.
Friday — 6 p.m., SEC Network
Kumar Rocker (11-1, 2.31 ERA) vs. Doug Nikhazy (6-2, 2.47 ERA)
Saturday — 4 p.m., SEC Network+
Jack Leiter (7-2, 2.10 ERA) vs. Derek Diamond (3-3, 4.91 ERA)
Sunday — 2 p.m., SEC Network
Patrick Reilly (4-1, 3.86 ERA) vs. Drew McDaniel (4-0, 4.50 ERA)