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A Waiting Game: Rebels Fall To Commodores, Await NCAA Tournament Fate

by | May 25, 2022 | Baseball | 0 comments

HOOVER, Ala. – The SEC Tournament takes no prisoners. Weather delays have become more of a pastime at The Hoover Met than the games themselves, and Tuesday was no exception.

The first matchup of the day saw Alabama against Georgia in a contest that was supposed to begin at 9:30 a.m. First pitch did not occur until 10:05, and after two lengthy weather delays, did not end until approximately 3:45 p.m. And after yet another weather delay, game two between Florida and South Carolina got underway at 6:45 p.m.

FINALLY READY FOR REBEL BASEBALL

Ole Miss (32-21) was originally slated to play Vanderbilt (35-19) at 4:30 p.m., but first pitch did not occur until 10:00 p.m.

The Rebels got leadoff man Justin Bench aboard after he was hit by a pitch, but Vandy center fielder Enrique Bradfield Jr. made a sensational catch to rob Tim Elko of a base hit and the Rebels would leave Bench stranded.

The Commodores would give the Rebels a scare in the home half, loading the bases with two away, but a lineout to right field ended the threat and kept the game scoreless after one.

VANDY STRIKES FIRST

After DeLucia recorded two quick outs in the bottom of the third, the Commodores got a two-out double from Spencer Jones. That was followed by an RBI single from Dominic Keegan after DeLucia appeared to have strike three but it was called a ball.

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES

Through the first four innings, Ole Miss was 0-9 with runners on and 0-3 with runners in scoring position. The biggest of those was in the top of the fourth when Kevin Graham reached to lead off the inning but was left stranded at third base.

MORE WEB GEMS FROM KEVIN

Kevin Graham has been making spectacular plays in the outfield all season for the Rebels and he continued that streak on Tuesday, robbing a base hit from the Commodores in the home half of the 4th.

DELUCIA’S DAY DONE

In the Vanderbilt fifth, the Commodores put the pressure on DeLucia, loading the bases with just one out. Head coach Mike Bianco would elect to make a pitching change and bring in Josh Mallitz in a massive situation for the Rebels.

Mallitz would induce a groundout from Parker Noland that would score the Commodores’ second run to make it 2-0 with runners on the corners and two away. He would then strike out Jack Bulger to limit the damage to just the one run and keep the Rebels within striking distance.

OH OFFENSE, WHERE ART THOU?

Unfortunately for the Rebels, despite great defensive plays and the clutch pitching from Mallitz, the offense just could not get in rhythm. The Rebels were just 3-21 through six innings and 0-13 with runners on base, including 0-4 with runners in scoring position. Carter Holton continued to induce groundouts to go along with six strikeouts.

A BREAKTHROUGH

After Peyton Chatagnier walked in the seventh inning and advanced to second on a groundout, Justin Bench would put the Rebels on the board with an RBI single.

Jacob Gonzalez would ground out to end the frame, but the Rebs were within two.

Josh Mallitz would continue his solid outing out of the bullpen, keeping the Commodores off the board in their half of the inning, with some help from a spectacular catch by Jacob Gonzalez.

SHUTDOWN

For the Rebels, the run in the seventh would be their only tally of the night. Calvin Harris would punch a two-out single through the right side in the ninth, but Vandy pitcher Christian Little would shut the door and the Rebels stay in Hoover would last just one game.

A WAITING GAME

Ole Miss now has an excruciating five-day wait until the NCAA Selection Show to find out their fate. The Rebels are on the very nervous side of the bubble, and some of the other bubble teams, including Alabama, are still going in their conference tournaments.

Coach Mike Bianco was asked what he would do to keep his players’ focus off the wait:

It is what it is. What are you going to do, take their iPhone away? Or ask D1 Baseball not to not put any more predictions out? It’s the world they live in. You can’t hide from it. Just handle it maturely and understand that we had some control of it tonight. Now we don’t.

Coach Mike Bianco

Justin Bench said it’s just all about sticking together through this time:

We’re just going to stay together. I’d like to think we did enough to get in but it’s up to those ten guys in the committee to see if we got in.”

Justin Bench on waiting for NCAA fate

The Rebels’ RPI currently stands at 39. The NCAA Selection Show will be Monday, May 30th, at 11 a.m. on ESPN2.

Austin Eldridge
Austin Eldridge

Austin has more than ten years in sports media, including sports talk radio, play-by-play broadcasting and journalism. He has followed Ole Miss athletics for his entire life and has covered the Rebels and the rest of the SEC while working in the Memphis media market. Outside of sports media, Austin is a musician and outdoorsman. Before a serious accident forced him to be medically discharged, he was a multi-media journalist with the Mississippi National Guard.

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