Talkin' Baseball

Ole Miss remains in the hunt for a Southeastern Conference regular season baseball crown, although there is work left to be done.

The Rebels play at Arkansas this week as the league again uses the Thursday-Saturday format for the final weekend of conference play. Games are 6:35 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 2:05 p.m. Saturday.

The Razorbacks, who host Oral Roberts Tuesday night, got swept by a rising Tide in Tuscaloosa. Arkansas is 31-17 overall and 14-12 in the SEC with one rainout. That puts them in sixth place heading into the weekend.

The Rebels, 37-15 and 17-10, are tied for third with Florida (35-17, 17-10). But the Rebels would fall into the fourth seed in the SEC tourney currently, even though they took two of three from the Gators earlier in Gainesville.

The West champ and the East champ are the top two seeds in Hoover. Then everybody else lines up after that.

LSU at 38-14 and 18-9 is currently first in the actual standings. Alabama is 35-15 and 17-9 (with one rainout) and in second overall, then come the Rebs and Gators. Georgia, which ended an eight-game losing skid with a 4-3 win over Vanderbilt Sunday, is fifth at 34-17 and 15-12.

If the SEC tourney were played today, South Carolina at 32-19 and 14-13, and Vanderbilt at 31-21 and 12-14, would round out the field.

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Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco, after his team lost two of three games to Mississippi State in Oxford, said the Rebels were not at the top of their game, so to speak.

"I don't think we played our best baseball," he said of the weekend. "Emotionally and mentally we were ready for them. We just didn't play as well. Gotta tip your hat to them. I thought they were terrific this weekend with not a lot to play for. They played so hard and they played really well. I'm sure they would say this is one of their better weekends, performance-wise, not just win or loss but the way they performed."

As for his team, he said the Rebels may have gotten swept up in the moment a bit.

"I think that kinda got to us a little bit," Bianco said. "With State and controlling our own destiny, I think we kinda got away from what we've done all year which is just play, don't worry about anything, just worry about the next pitch. That might have got to us a little bit, and maybe that's why we didn't play as well on Friday and Saturday. But I think it had more to do with the way State played than what we didn't do."

Bianco said Scott Bittle could be available for relief at Arkansas but not to start.

"Scott's feeling better every day. We'll test him out, probably on Tuesday, to get a better read. Feel pretty good about it. He won't start (at Arkansas), but we'll put him back in the bullpen where he is really good. To get him back as one of the 10 (pitchers who travel) would be a good thing. He's still day to day but we're pretty confident that will happen."

Bianco said Drew Pomeranz would start the series opener at Arkansas, and the other two starters are TBA as of now.

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Logan Power, the five-year veteran of the program, said Sunday's win was very important.

"I'm just really proud of the way we fought back and battled," he said.

He admitted getting swept could not happen.

"It was kind of a must-win game for us," Power said. "Playing the way we did the first two games, we really needed to come out and play well (Sunday). And we did."

Power said the Rebels weren't very good at the plate early on Sunday but got things together in time.

"Coach Rob (Reinstetle) called us up in the dugout and told us we really needed to make an adjustment to their offspeed. It seemed like they were throwing 80 percent offspeed (Sunday)," Power said. "So that's what we did, we made an adjustment and put the bat on the ball. We got a big hit (solo home run) out of (Evan) Button (to give UM a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning). We got a big defensive play from (Kevin) Mort throwing out their guy at home. And we just got a lot of momentum."

Momentum that carried them to a win over the Bulldogs. Momentum they hope they'll carry to Fayetteville for another important series against the Razorbacks.


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