Rebel notes from the SEC tourney

HOOVER, Ala. - Mike Bianco said he headed up a tunnel out of the first base dugout at Regions Park after being ejected by the home plate umpire Thursday night in Ole Miss' 6-3 win against Tennessee. It wasn't easy to find a place to go.

"The locker room was locked, and I didn't really know where to go," he said, after being tossed for the second time this year, ironically the first time coming at Tennessee. "It's a long walk in there up that ramp. You go down and then you go up and then you take a left. I didn't want to go outside the gates, so I sat in a chair at the top of the ramp. I Iistened to the announcer, and there were a bunch of Ole Miss fans right above me. You hear the announcer, and then when you hear cheering, you know we got an out. Then you hear something less loud and it must mean something bad for us."

Bianco said there was no TV in that area, so he guessed what was going on. Then he said he heard from the announcer, "No runs, no hits, whatever, and Ole Miss will play.....then I knew I could come out of there."

He walked down the tunnel and then emerged to some cheers from Ole Miss fans who remained.

"It took a while. It must have been 75 yards down that tunnel," Bianco said.

But his team had won and advanced to Saturday - even though he didn't get to see those last few innings of play.

"You don't ever want to get thrown out of a game. That's embarrassing," Bianco said. "Some people think it's to fire up a team. That's not it to me. I don't mean this egotistically, but I think I'm an important part of the game (for his team). I'm proud of the way (the team and coaches) handled.things."


Bianco says he believes the Rebels, who practiced Friday afternoon at Samford University like they did a year ago today, have done enough to host. But as far as becoming a national seed he is less sure.

"You've gotta like our resume now as far as hosting," he said. "As far as being a national seed, there's a lot of information I don't know. Certainly if we win it (this SEC tourney) and go 4-0 and after beating Arkansas two of three that last weekend, then is that enough to get you a top eight? I don't know that. But certainly it would all help."


Bianco has used two catchers lately - Brett Basham and Alex Kliman. He likes what both have brought to the team.

"Alex has done a great job every time he's gotten in games," Bianco said. "Offensively he brings some power swinging from the left side. He's done a terrific job handling the pitchers, blocking some balls, doing everything you could ask defensively. Brett may throw a little bit better, and I think Brett would admit this, but he hasn't been as consistent. But Brett does have a role offensively, and Brett can get the runners in from third base. He doesn't strikeout a ton. He can move the ball, he can hit and run, he can do some things offensively better than a lot of kids in our lineup. Catching-wise he's been inconsistent, and some of that is youth. I didn't realize it until someone pointed it out, he's the first sophomore catcher I've had here. He's very talented. It's a tough league, and as a former catcher, I'm tough on catchers."

Kliman, a fourth-year junior who has started three of the Rebels last five games with 26 total appearances and 12 starts, said he feels good contributing behind and at the plate.

"Playing two games at Arkansas helped," he said of getting comfortable. "I've tried to play really well defensively. I've got the left-handed bat. Brett's got the right-handed bat. The more depth you can have back there, the better. Whatever they need for me to do, that's what I want to do."

Basham, who has started 46 games and made six additional appearances, gave kudos to his fellow teammate.

"Alex has come in and done a great job," said the second-year sophomore. "He's swung the bat well and provided good defense. It helps keep me fresh and that's good. He's probably going to be in there more now."


JoJo Tann has been a contributor this year like never before. But it's usually just to come in and pinch run.

But don't short-change Tann when it comes to being an important part of the team. The sophomore has appeared in 31 games but only has 12 at-bats.

Doesn't matter to the personable and outgoing Tann. He says it's all about the team.

"My big deal is winning," he said. "That's honestly what keeps me happy. I always put the team in front of myself. I'm very content with my role on the team."

Tann and teammate Peyton Farr, a usual late-game defensive replacement, stay ready to come in whenever called upon.

"We always jog together (down the foul line toward the outfield between innings), and we stretch together," Tann said. "We have to stay ready. I don't get in if the score's say 9-1. If I go in, there's a reason. You just stay there and listen for it. You know the guys you're going to run for. So you know the situation and that it will be important."

Tann plays in practice everyday behind shortstop Zack Cozart. But he's played left field, right field, second base, and designated hitter this season.

"I bounce around between infield and outfield," he said. "The coaches have told me it's good to have a guy who can do all those things."

Tann says it all goes back to the team and reaching all those goals they have - like winning the SEC Tournament again.

"Everybody's on this team to win. We're all here trying to win - me, Zack Cozart, Lance Lynn, Cullan Kight, all of us," Tann said. "At this level, you have to put the team first. Everybody does. We need Cody Overbeck to hit home runs. We need Justin Cryer out of the bullpen. We need everybody."

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