As long as the Rebels hang around in the SEC tournament the national seed and to some degree host will be a talking point.
Actually I think you can take host out of there, but that’s just me.
The question, as we discussed yesterday, is whether the selection committee would jump from a record five SEC hosts to seven – not just six but seven.
Well, at some point it just becomes about deserving the host site and not what everybody else is doing.
I think the South Carolina win did that for Ole Miss.
Vanderbilt keeps winning. LSU rallied to beat Tennessee Tuesday night and has the late game again tonight as I produce for you on a Wednesday evening.
WarrenNolan.com was the first to update the RPI after Vanderbilt and Ole Miss, both the lower seeded teams, won against Texas A&M and South Carolina today. In that RPI Ole Miss is 5, Vanderbilt 6, South Carolina 7 and LSU 8.
That may be a little different by the time you hear this with LSU still to play, but RPI’s not going to change much. Too much water under the bridge.
And while the committee will look at other things to try and differentiate among these very close teams, RPI matters a lot. It’s hard to imagine that an Ole Miss team ranked inside the RPI top 10, a team that has now won three straight against RPI top 50 teams, two of those – Texas A&M and South Carolina – RPI top five teams, would not host.
If winning two games in the SEC tournament did indeed lock up a host spot there’s likely still work to do for a national seed.
We’ll see what the Rebels can do there.
About that South Carolina game …
Ole Miss is a much better offense than it was when the Gamecocks swept the Rebels in Oxford March 24-26.
Still, this is an offense that is not intimidating one through nine. It relies heavily on its best players to produce, but when they do, the Rebels are really good. Ole Miss had 12 hits against South Carolina, eight of them coming from Tate Blackman and JB Woodman with two and Henri Lartigue who was 4-for-5.
Woodman also walked twice. He reached base in every at-bat and scored four runs.
Ryan Olenek and Colby Bortles each had two hits. Bortles has three hits in the tournament, and two of them are RBI doubles.
Woodman is 4-for-5 in the tournament with four RBIs and five runs scored. He’s been graceful in the outfield, and he’s turning a lot of heads here.
Lartigue put the exclamation point on his day with a three-run home run in the eighth. It was 7-4 at the time, a fairly comfortable lead for the Ole Miss bullpen. Lartigue removed all doubt.
From a pitching perspective Will Stokes had a solid relief appearance, his second appearance in the tournament, with three scoreless innings for his seventh save.
The bigger story was David Parkinson’s 5 2-3 inning start. He was a little wobbly in the third when Carolina scored a pair of runs, but those were their only runs against Parkinson, who scattered five hits and walked two.
A lefty, Parkinson was in the bullpen when Carolina visited in the regular season, and he gave the Gamecocks a different look.
Andy Pagnozzi came in with two outs in the sixth and got a pop-up to leave the bases loaded. He gave up a couple of hits in the seventh, and Stokes came on.
Either Chad Smith or James McArthur will start tomorrow against Vanderbilt. First pitch is scheduled for 4:30, but that’s a moving target.
The bullpen should be in pretty good shape. Brady Feigl and Wyatt Short had the day off. Pagnozzi threw only nine pitches. Connor Green still hasn’t thrown.
The Rebels get a chance to differentiate themselves against Vanderbilt tomorrow, a team like the Rebels in that lower part of the group of seven. They did not play in the regular season.
It would be a nice win for Ole Miss, but I think the Rebels have done enough in the host discussion. We’ll know Sunday.