Keep It Comin’, Diamond Rebs: Y’all Deserve a Regional This Year!
by Carver Rayburn – from The Local Voice #155
With just nine games left in the SEC season, Ole Miss Baseball Coach Mike Bianco and his Band of Rebels will be given the opportunity to sink or swim. With a record of 10-11 in the SEC, the Rebels need a big push in the win column during these last three series to have any possible shot at hosting a regional in Oxford.
Without a big finish, Ole Miss is looking at a possible two seed in the NCAA tournament and traveling to another venue, once again. The schedule, save for LSU, looks to be in the Rebels favor. They end the season against unranked Tennessee and 21-23 Vanderbilt.
The stats don’t lie. Ole Miss has had a powerful punch at the plate, landing itself in the top five of just about every offensive category in the SEC. The problem, for the most part, has been timely hits. There have been multiple games this season where the Rebels had twice as many hits as runs. Stranding runners on the bases usually won’t get you a W in the most competitive league in the NCAA.
However, the Rebels control their own destiny. So far this year, they have risen to the challenge when facing top tier teams at home. A series win over Florida and Arkansas have set the stage for another big series against rival LSU this weekend.
The Tigers have been the hottest team in the league all season. For the past three weeks, that little last ten games stat has been 9-1. They keep on winning. Late game comebacks and timely hits have been the difference for LSU this season – something Ole Miss will need if they are going to be victorious over the Tigers.
We know this team can win. The catch with the 2012 Rebels is consistency. Will we see the team that shutout Arkansas 1-0 in a thrilling pitchers duel or will we see the team that lost to Memphis and dropped two of three to Mississippi State?
The two squads seem to be fairly even on paper. Ole Miss carries a team batting average of .308, while LSU falls right behind with a .301 team average. The Rebels have 30 dingers and LSU has punched 26 out of the park this year.
On the mound, the Ole Miss staff has a combined ERA of 3.39. LSU is slightly better at 3.22. The strikeout to walk ratio favors the Tigers as well with 412 Ks to 108 bases on balls. Ole Miss has fanned 372 and walked 101.
Arguably the two best batters in the SEC will go head to head this weekend in Oxford with Raph Rhymes of LSU and the Rebels’ Alex Yarbrough. Rhymes is batting .500 with 46 RBI and 11 doubles. Yarbrough boasts an average of .420 with 38 RBI and 16 doubles.
It is not very often that we as fans get a chance to see to of the nation’s best hitters in person on the same weekend. Hope for a Yarbrough clinic and a Rhymes bust.
This article was published in The Local Voice #155 (April 19-May 3, 2012)…Click here to download the PDF of issue #155.