By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – There weren’t a lot of anxious moments for the Ole Miss baseball team during Monday’s NCAA tournament selection show. The Rebels felt they were in.
Even so, selection committee chairman Kyle Kallander said Ole Miss, which has lost six of its last seven, was among the last five teams placed in the field.
The Rebels are back in the field of 64 – they take on No. 2 regional seed TCU on Friday at 12:35 in the College Station, Texas, Regional – as a No. 3 seed after a string of eight appearances ended in 2011.
“We kind of ended tough, but we had some positives. We have the sweep against Tennessee, and that’s pretty recent, and we had the win against Arkansas in the SEC tournament where we faced a good pitcher in (D.J.) Baxendale and got the W,” Ole Miss first baseman Matt Snyder said. “Honestly, I didn’t think their was any doubt because of our RPI, the teams we played out of conference, and we didn’t have a terrible record.”
Regional host Texas Aamp&M (42-16) has won 14 of its last 18 games and is making a school-record sixth-straight appearance in the NCAA tournament. The Aggies reached the College World Series last season.
No. 1 seed Texas Aamp&M will take on No. 4 seed Dayton (31-28) Friday at 6:35 p.m.
The College Station Regional is matched up with No. 2 national seed UCLA. The Bruins host San Diego, New Mexico and Creighton in their Los Angeles Regional.
Ole Miss played at the College Station Regional in 1999 under former coach Pat Harris.
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco recalls postseason baseball in College Station among his most memorable achievements are part of a tournament team.
He was a catcher on an LSU team that rallied from the loser’s bracket to defeat Texas Aamp&M twice – in the days before the super regional format – and advance to the College World Series. The Aggies were ranked No. 1 at the time.
“That was the last time I was there, as a player in 1989,” Bianco said. “That was a long time ago.”
Hit or miss
This week, he leads a team whose starting pitching should give it a chance for success but has struggled to score runs in recent weeks.
The Rebels will face a TCU team that was ranked No. 10 when they split two games on opening weekend earlier this season.
Bianco says workouts since the Rebels’ elimination loss to LSU in the SEC tournament have been “terrific” and with a lot of energy.
“I wasn’t quite sure how the kids would respond. This past weekend we’ve done some great things, had some really good BP’s,” he said.
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