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It’s time! No. 1 seed Rebs begin Regional Action at Swayze tonight vs. No. 4 SEMO

It’s time! No. 1 seed Rebs begin Regional Action at Swayze tonight vs. No. 4 SEMO

OXFORD, Miss. — About this time every summer, most universities around the nation enter somewhat of a lull period as their athletic departments look ahead to the upcoming fall sports. That is NOT the case at Ole Miss. Instead, the atmosphere around Oxford is filled with excitement and anticipation of postseason baseball play that is about to begin.

A history of success

This weekend, the Rebels will host their 10th NCAA Regional, all under head coach Mike Bianco. Ole Miss is one of just five programs to host 10 or more regionals since 2004, and Swayze Field is also one of just eight in college baseball to host five or more regionals since 2014.

In the recent past, the 2019 Rebs made a late run to secure a Regional in Swayze Field which they won handily, and they advanced to the Super Regional in Fayetteville, Arkansas before coming up one game short of reaching their second College World Series berth in five years.

In 2020, the Rebels had just one loss before going on a 16-game winning streak with a team that was one of the most explosive in Ole Miss Baseball history.  There was little doubt from the players or the fans that Omaha would be the destination for that talented group.

Then came the heartbreaking news prior to the opening weekend of SEC play that the college baseball season would be canceled due to the unprecedented COVID pandemic that forced teams to disband and return to their homes and families until further notice.

All but two extremely important cogs in the 2020 edition of the Diamond Rebs returned to the Swayze Field in 2021. The Rebels knew they would have to step up offensively to compensate for the loss of power and consistency from Tyler Keenan and Anthony Servideo, each who were taken in the shortened MLB draft of 2020.

Rebs battle injuries in 2021 

In the Fall of 2020, before the spring baseball season even began, center fielder Jerrion Ealy suffered a season-ending shoulder injury during his final regular-season football game. After Ealy, in the first weekend of the 2021 season,  second baseman Peyton Chatagnier injured his hamstring.

More injuries followed as senior reliever Max Cioffi (UCL), starting pitcher Doug Nikhazy (pectoral muscle), and first baseman Cael Baker (hamate bone in hand) went down with injuries that would require rehab.  

Trey LaFleur was then added to the list of those unavailable to play, and the Rebs had to be wondering what could happen next?

The answer soon came as two of the team’s veteran leaders — team captain Tim Elko (torn ACL) and Friday ace Gunnar Hoglund (torn UCL) went down with severe injuries. Calvin Harris was still recovering from Tommy John surgery in the fall, and Knox Loposer had to miss time because of a rotator cuff injury.

Frankly, most teams would have folded like a cheap suit, but that’s not how this story ends.

Rebs rebound

The Diamond Rebs came back from five conference series losses this season to take the final two series, versus No. 2 Vanderbilt and Georgia.

Ole Miss followed that up with a semifinal appearance in the top-heavy 2021 SEC Tournament, defeating Vanderbilt, 4-1, and playing No. 1 Arkansas down to the wire in a 3-2 loss. 

This weekend, the third season starts.  

Three teams — Southeast Missouri State, Florida State, and Southern Miss — are traveling to the mecca of college baseball that head coach Mike Bianco has helped create. The diamond will come alive for four more days before the Super Regional round.  

Regional action at Swayze

SEMO, FSU, and USM all have the ability to win the Oxford Regional, but as this Ole Miss team showed in the SEC Tournament, the Rebs intend to excel and advance with one of the most potent offenses in college baseball and a reemerging bullpen that will help them compete with any team in the nation.  

The action begins Friday at 3 pm between No. 3-seed Florida State and the No. 2 seed USM. That game will be followed by No. 4 seed SEMO versus the Regional host Rebels at 7:00 pm.  

This Regional will likely be one of the most competitive in college baseball this weekend, and the fans will turn out in force for these matchups.  

Click here for a Regional Preview as we scout all three teams and provide the keys to Ole Miss’ success on the weekend.

(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)

About The Author

Chad Smith

Chad holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Ole Miss and stays immersed in Rebel sports and alumni affairs. As a second-generation Rebel, he loves everything that makes the university unique and appealing. While he supports every sport on campus, his primary love is Ole Miss Baseball. As a baseball scout and creator of the only group dedicated to Ole Miss Baseball, Chad enjoys focusing on the players’ and the team's success on and off the field. The unique atmosphere created by the fans, facilities and coaching staff has transformed Swayze Field into a world-class program that others only dream of having. Chad currently lives in Lula, Georgia with his wife Danielle, his German Short-Haired Pointer Renegade "Hotty Toddy," and a cat named Boudreaux.

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