On To Raleigh

The Ole Miss baseball team knew it was in. Now it knows everything else.

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The Rebels are the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Raleigh Regional. They'll face William and Mary, the third seed, Friday at 2 p.m. Eastern time in the North Carolina capital city.

"Obviously we're really excited," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco, taking an Ole Miss team, this one 37-22, to a NCAA Regional for the 11th time in his 13-year tenure in Oxford. "As I told the kids yesterday, this (time of year) is what you play for. It's an exciting time."

The Rebels watched ESPNU as their name popped up fairly early in the process. They were relieved to see it and know their position in the field.

"We were all anxious," said Tanner Mathis, the senior outfielder who has been through this twice before. "We were all sitting kinda quiet in the locker room before we came up here. Then we come up here and all of a sudden see our name, and it's like a lot of relief. Now we know where we're going."

Bianco said now a lot of what's next is learning about the opponents in the field.

"We had a little end of the year banquet at my house Saturday night, and we saw (NC State ace Carlos) Rodon pitch and what a great game that was," he said of the ACC tournament game against North Carolina. "He's going to be on the USA Team this summer. I've heard about him. People have talked about him all year.

"I don't know much about William and Mary and (fourth-seeded) Binghamton yet," Bianco continued. "We will find out a lot of information in the coming days."

Bianco will serve as the Team USA pitching coach this summer.

Rodon is a 6-foot-3 left-hander with good stats but not overly impressive ones. He's 8-2 with a 3.48 ERA in 101 innings.

NC State bats .280 as a team. The Rebels are hitting .276 as a club.

The Rebel players, who last suited up Thursday in the SEC Tournament, are ready to get back at it.

"We're all excited for it," said ace Rebel righty Bobby Wahl, who hasn't pitched since the regular season finale against LSU. "I know all the guys are ready to get back on the field right now. I feel great health-wise. My arm feels great, and I'm ready to go."

Wahl may or may not start Friday's game against the Tribe. He could be held to face, most likely, NC State in game two on Saturday. In that case, Rebel righty Mike Mayers would likely go.

That would mean Wahl facing Rodon in a matchup of two of the nation's finest college aces. Rodon leads the nation with 151 strikeouts. He averages 13 strikeouts per nine innings.

"We're all excited," said Rebel fifth-year closer Brett Huber about the tournament. "We're ready to go. The Regional starts the road to Omaha. We're ready for practice this week and ready to head out there and play some good baseball."

Brett Huber
Bruce Newman

Rebel senior outfielder Tanner Mathis said he believes the No. 2 seed Rebels have a decent shot to advance.

"I think it's a good draw," he said. "William and Mary hits pretty well and pitches pretty well. Then there's North Carolina State and how good of a pitching staff they have. And then there's Binghamton. So I really think it's a good draw."

There was some thought that NC State might be a national top 8 seed. They appear to have been close.

The Wolfpack is 44-14 overall and were 19-10 in ACC play. They were 25-8 at home.

Rodon actually also bats some, and has 23 plate appearances, with a .217 average.

William and Mary has a 37-22 record, just like the Rebels, and play in Colonial Athletic Assocation. The Tribe's 17-10 league mark earned them the No. 2 seed in last weekend's CAA tournament, and was the most conference wins ever in school history. W&M won two games in the conference playoffs, one a 20-19 thriller over James Madison as well as a well-fought 12-4 victory over Northeastern, and advanced to the CAA Championship game, losing to Towson 5-2.

"Obviously, we are really excited to have the chance to continue our season," said first-year head coach Jamie Pinzino. "I am extremely proud of every player in our program, they deserve this moment as they have bought into the program since day one. This is a great step for William and Mary baseball and hopefully a sign of things to come in Williamsburg for years to come."

Binghamton is 30-23.

Here's the tournament bracket:

Game 1: Friday, May 31 #2 Ole Miss vs. William and Mary, 2 p.m. (ESPN 3)

Game 2: Friday, May 31 #1 N.C. State vs. #4 Binghamton, 7 p.m. (ESPN 3)

Game 3: Saturday, June 1 Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 2 p.m. (ESPN 3)

Game 4: Saturday, June 1 Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 7 p.m. (ESPN 3)

Game 5: Sunday, June 2 Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 1 p.m. (ESPN 3)

Game 6: Sunday, June 2 Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5, 6 p.m. (ESPN 3)

Game 7 (if necessary): Monday, June 3 Winner Game 6 vs. Loser Game 6, 7 p.m. (ESPN 3)

Here are the three additional teams' websites you can find out more info:




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