When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one fanbase to experience inordinate amounts of pain, we look to the Ole Miss Rebels in the baseball postseason.
Ole Miss has advanced to the College World Series five times in school history (1956, 1964, 1969, 1972 and 2014), meaning that only one of these appearances has come in my lifetime. Fortunately, I remember Ole Miss’ 2014 trip to Omaha rather well because I was like 15 years old at the time, but the Rebels have had an opportunity to punch their ticket to the CWS many, many more times that they have not taken advantage of, especially since the NCAA College Baseball Tournament was expanded in 1999 (I was almost a year old!).
Since the Rebels will be facing Arizona in a super regional this weekend, I thought it would be prudent to take a look at the other times Ole Miss has advanced to a super regional and how those instances turned out.
For starters, a “super regional” wasn’t a thing before the aforementioned expansion in 1999, so I don’t have a ton of time to pull from. BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN I WON’T NEED THERAPY AFTER THIS ONE.
Ole Miss has advanced to seven (count ‘em, seven!) super regionals in school history counting 2021, giving me a perfect opportunity to use this GIF.
Let’s start where all good stories begin: the beginning.
2005 Super Regional — vs. Texas
I have very vague memories of this super regional, and they say that your childhood years are important for mental health development, meaning it’s a miracle of God that I’m not committed to an institution somewhere.
Ole Miss absolutely waxed the teams it hosted in its 2005 regional, knocking off Maine 5-0, Oklahoma 7-3 and Oklahoma (again) 20-5. The Rebs were runnin’ and got the reward of hosting the Texas Longhorns for a super regional date in Oxford. Here’s what happened.
The Rebs came one win shy of a trip to Omaha before Texas rallied the troops and won the final two games in Oxford. What did Texas do after winning the Oxford super, you may ask?
They won the natty because of course they did.
Texas was also then featured on the cover of EA Sports’ MVP NCAA BASEBALL 06 the next season. To add insult to injury, in the instruction booklet that accompanies this game, there are gameplay screenshots featuring Ole Miss taking on Texas. EA Sports just had to pour salt on an open wound, didn’t they?
Yes, I’ve spent far too much time playing this game, btw.
2006 Super Regional — vs. Miami (Fla.)
Just like the All-American Rejects, we move along.
Ole Miss knocked off Bethune-Cookman, South Alabama and Tulane in its 2006 regional before playing host to Miami and LOSING THE LAST TWO GAMES OF THE SUPER AGAIN.
Once again a mere win away from Omaha, the Rebs fell flat. At least this time the team that eliminated Ole Miss didn’t win the natty, but still. Back-to-back years of being one win away from a trip to scenic Nebraska and losing the last two games in your own super regional had to be maddening. I’m sure many of you remember this much clearer than I do.
2007 Super Regional — at Arizona State
After winning a super regional that featured Troy, Southern Miss and Sam Houston State (including a 21-13 win in the regional finals over Sam Houston and the boys!), Ole Miss headed out west to Tempe and faced Arizona State where, much like an oak tree in a desert climate, the Rebels wilted and died in a lackluster fashion.
This time, instead of winning game one, Ole Miss decided not to delay the inevitable and just get swept. This saved us all time and energy, and for that, we are grateful.
A brief message from our sponsor who made this story possible
Note: Rob Thomas doesn’t sponsor us, but it’d be real cool if he did. This song just seemed to fit the mood.
2009 Super Regional — vs. Virginia
Monmouth, Western Kentucky and Missouri stood in Ole Miss’ way of making it back to the super regional round in 2009, and the Rebels handled them well before playing host to Virginia in Oxford for a trip to Omaha.
I’m sure you can guess how this story ends.
2014 Super Regional — at Louisiana-Lafayette (now known simply as “Louisiana” because #brand #marketing)
After not making it to the College World Series since 1972 and being oh so close multiple times, Bianco and the boys finally punched their ticket in 2014.
My favorite part of this video is seeing Mike Bianco smile and get attacked by hugs in the dugout. I know he catches a lot of flack from some Rebel fans, but it had to feel good for him to finally get over the hump and make it to the CWS. It sure felt good for us.
Regardless of how you feel about Mike Bianco as a coach, he’s a person just like the rest of us, and he loves the game of baseball. Seeing his reaction here will stay with me forever.
Here’s how that super regional played out in case you can’t remember.
After dropping game one, the Rebs reversed their fortunes and pulled a sneaky on the Cajuns, winning the last two games to get to Omaha. We had them right where we wanted them.
2019 Super Regional — at Arkansas
If you’ll recall, Ole Miss didn’t have an amazing regular season run towards the end of their 2019 season, but they pulled it together in Hoover, dominated their regional and then had a really strange super in Fayetteville.
The big takeaway from this super regional (for me at least) wasn’t that the Rebels were eliminated, but that they rallied late in the season and made it to a winner-take-all game against Arkansas for a trip to Omaha. It seemed to bode well for the future of Mike Bianco’s tenure where the postseason is concerned, especially after losing the 2018 regional to Tennessee Tech. Hopefully that trend continues this weekend.
2021 Super Regional — at Arizona
That brings us to today.
To recap, Ole Miss’ only trip to Omaha in the super regional era came via a road super regional win over ULL (or UL or whatever they are now). You always prefer playing at home, but history shows (or a sliver of history, anyway) that a road super regional doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the line for Ole Miss baseball.
It would be ideal if Ole Miss had a healthy Gunnar Hoglund to shut down the hot-hitting Desert Wildcats, but they don’t have that luxury. Still, you’ve made it this far, and now only two wins separate you from a trip to Nebraska. Ole Miss is 1-5 all-time in super regionals, and I can’t think of a better time to reverse some of that trend than the present.
Let’s make it happen this weekend.