Rebels open NCAA baseball tourney at home

OleMissLogoBy Parrish Alford

Daily Journal

OXFORD – Hosting an NCAA regional was fairly common for Ole Miss baseball in the previous decade.

Sunday evening, the Rebels’ seniors learned they would experience home games in postseason for the first time.

“We’re pumped,” Ole Miss catcher Will Allen said.

Only regional host sites were announced on Sunday. The remainder of the 64-team field – and the national seeds – will be announced at 11 a.m. on ESPNU.

The double-elimination regionals will be played Friday through Sunday – and possibly next Monday, if two teams remain with one loss following Sunday’s play.

Winners advance to the best-of-three super regional June 6-9. Those winners fill the eight spots at the College World Series.

“In my four years we’d never won 40 games or won the West and hadn’t hosted a regional,” third baseman Austin Anderson said. “Being my senior year, this means a lot. We’re just looking to keep playing well, win our regional, go on to the super and eventually make it to Omaha.”

The Rebels (41-19) last reached the College World Series in 1972.

Ole Miss hosted regionals from 2004-07 and again in 2009. Only in 2004, when they lost the opener to Western Kentucky, did the Rebels fail to advance from Swayze Field. That Ole Miss team lost to Washington the following day.

The top eight seeds are guaranteed to host super regionals provided they advance from the regional round.

Planting seeds

Ole Miss was in the thick of the national seed discussion when it was eliminated from the SEC tournament by Arkansas on Friday.

Florida is considered a strong favorite to earn one of the eight spots. LSU and South Carolina will be in contention as well.

With or without a national seed, an Ole Miss team picked to finish sixth in the Western Division by SEC coaches is glad to start at home for the many advantages that brings.

“It’s a great recruiting tool for us,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “It’s a huge plus. There’s a little over 70 percent chance of moving on to the next round, not just for us but for everybody. Everybody wants to be at home.”

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