HOOVER, Ala. – SEC spokesman Chuck Dunlap says the league could have an announcement by October concerning the future of its baseball tournament.
Conference officials have visited minor league baseball stadiums in Duluth, Ga., and Memphis, as the league considers moving the tournament away from Hoover, where it’s been for the last 13 seasons.
The current contract expires at the conclusion of the 2011 tournament.
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco believes the tournament should stay at Regions Park.
“Certainly, if it moves we’d be happy to see it move to Memphis, but we’re not dissatisfied,” he said. “It would be neat for it to be in Memphis, but then would it go to New Orleans and Atlanta? I’ve seen that around other leagues, and it doesn’t work well. We’re not like basketball. It needs to stay in one spot.”
Dunlap said he expects Duluth, Memphis and Hoover to submit bids after next week’s annual SEC business meetings in Destin.
He cited infrastructure, hotel space and proximity to restaurants and the ability to accommodate a large media contingent as factors in the decision.
“It certainly is not all about who has the highest bid,” Dunlap said. “All three of the locations that will submit bids have those things.”
In Hoover, the tournament has been well-supported by a number of schools, including Ole Miss. This season, the opening game matched local favorites Alabama and Auburn and drew a record 12,514 fans.
“Hoover is synonymous with the SEC tournament. People say, ‘Hey, see you in Hoover, or hope you make it to Hoover,'” Bianco said. “It’s just like they talk about Omaha. You can say that’s because it’s been here so long, but it’s been here so long, because they do a great job.”
Ole Miss pitching
– LSU had the added advantage of a rested pitching staff that goes along with winning the first two games in the tournament.
All potential Ole Miss starters had thrown at least an inning in the first three days including McKean, who threw 12/3 innings against Alabama.
A senior right-hander from Montgomery, Ala., he was making his first start of the season, the second of his career. He went 22/3 innings, allowing five hits, four runs, three of them earned. He walked one and struck out one.
McKean averaged 2.49 innings per appearance this season. He began the day 4-1 with a 5.29 ERA in 34 innings.
“We didn’t do our jobs on the mound today,” McKean said. “You can say what you want about our offense, but if they can’t score, they can’t win. We have to make pitches.”
LSU had its most success against Baton Rouge native Eric Callender, the third of three Ole Miss pitchers, who gave up three hits and three runs, all earned, in a third of an inning.
Kindred to have health tests
– Former Ole Miss player David Kindred, who transferred after one season, is hitting .314 as the regular designated hitter for Alabama.
Kindred’s junior season was cut short, however, at least temporarily. The school announced Saturday that Kindred had returned home for tests to determine the origin of shortness of breath and tightness in his chest.
“Our No. 1 concern is David’s health and well-being,” Alabama coach Mitch Gaspard said. “He has done a tremendous job for us this season, and we wish him well in this process.”
Kindred is scheduled for tests today.
His father, Bryan, did not rule out a return to the team this season.
Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal