Lost in this at some level was the fact that the resiliency of the Rebel team to bounce back came through again. In a bigtime way.
They'd done it all year, with no more than two losses in a row at any point. But this was the end of the road had they lost their second straight this time.
Ole Miss advanced to a Super Regional for the fourth time in five years with its 4-1 win over Western Kentucky Monday night. To be able to play at home again this weekend took every ounce of bounce-back they could muster.
Logan Power and Matt Smith admitted postgame that lesser teams might have folded under the trying conditions of the dramatic loss Sunday night and the stakes of Monday night's game.
Think about it. How did you feel Sunday night/Monday morning? Those players and coaches had to regroup, regather, and regurgitate the Sunday night setback (they say flush, but that was a throw-up loss if ever there was one), and refocus all day Monday.
Did they ever.
It always, as Bianco says, starts on the mound. Did it ever.
But it moved on from there. This team responded to its pitcher, one of its new leaders, Drew Pomeranz, like Rebel teams did Stephen Head.
Remember him? Of course you do. When Head was on the mound, the team was lifted. We saw it every time he went out there. They didn't always win, but they almost did. And their chances of winning went up when he took the ball.
I had a fan, RussReb on the message board, tell me this morning he watched Drew when he would go back out for the next inning. As the yells of Drewwwwww increased with each passing inning, RussReb said Drew would take a look around and up into the stands as he went back out to pitch.
Kinda like a "Here we go. Come on. Follow me. I got it." type deal. And that's how it turned out.
But his teammates did the same thing. They followed Drew's lead.
"It's phenomenal," Matt Smith said of Drew's performance. "Just watching him on the mound, just every pitch he threw you could tell he was locked in. He gave it his all every pitch. It was awesome. You can't really explain it. He does what he does, and he's the best at what he does."
Kyle Henson caught most of the game. He said Drew was at his best, but he's seen him like that before.
"Drew looked great tonight, obviously," said the senior catcher. "He looked just like he did on a Friday night game. He was ready and focused. It was definitely one of the best games I've been a part of. Just a great overall game that was fun and exciting to catch."
Ole Miss (43-18) and Virginia (46-12) have some history in baseball but not much. It is significant for the Rebels and perhaps a decent omen for the weekend.
The two schools have met just twice previously, with the teams splitting two games. Ironically, both of those contests were in the 1972 NCAA District III Playoffs in Gastonia, N.C. Virginia won the first matchup 9-3, but Ole Miss rebounded to win the second game 9-0.
The last time Ole Miss made it to the College World Series? That was in 1972 following that District Tournament.
The Rebels actually had to beat South Alabama twice after beating Virginia to advance to Omaha. But the Cavaliers were indeed involved in the last NCAA tourney that sent the Rebels to the CWS.
Virginia reached its first Super Regional after sweeping three games at the NCAA Irvine Regional over the weekend. The Cavaliers defeated San Diego State and pitching star Stephen Strasburg in the opener before defeating No. 1-ranked and No. 6 national seed UC Irvine twice on the Anteaters' home field to claim the title.
Cavalier pitchers allowed only one run in two games against the home team national seed. They'd only given up one run in the win over San Diego State.
Two runs allowed in three games on the NCAA road. That's impressive. Drew Pomeranz-like, don't you think?
GAMES BEGIN FRIDAY, JUNE 5 – All Times Central
Virginia (46-12-1) at Mississippi (43-18)
1 p.m. (ESPN2), 11 a.m. (ESPN2), 2 p.m. (ESPN)
Louisville (47-16) at No. 2 Cal State Fullerton (45-14)
9:30 p.m. (ESPN2), 4 p.m. (ESPN), 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
Arkansas (37-22) at Florida State (45-16)
11 a.m. (ESPN), 11 a.m. (ESPN2), 11 a.m. (ESPN)
Rice (43-16) at No. 3 LSU (49-16)
6 p.m. (ESPN), 4 p.m. (ESPN), 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
GAMES BEGIN SATURDAY, JUNE 6 - All times Central
TCU (39-16) at No. 1 Texas (44-13-1)
5 p.m. (ESPNU), 2 p.m. (ESPN), noon or 6 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN2)
Southern Miss (38-24) at No. 8 Florida (42-20)
2 p.m. (ESPNU), 6 p.m. (ESPN2), noon or 6 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN2)
Clemson (44-20) at No. 5 Arizona State (47-12)
8 p.m. (ESPNU), 9 p.m. (ESPN2), 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
East Carolina (46-18) at No. 4 North Carolina (45-16)
11 a.m. (ESPNU), 11 a.m. (ESPN), noon or 6 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN2)
Photographer Bruce Newman's son, Jackson, turns four on Monday. He was born the week of the Ole Miss-Texas Super Regional. At least the approximate date of his birthday is easy to remember. Just think Super Regional and you're close.
Jackson is buddies with the UM baseball players. From a connection to Drew Pomeranz through some baby-sitting friends of Jackson's to the Rebel baseball players visiting the campus daycare and hanging out with the kids, Jackson is known around the team.
Zach Miller walked onto the field last week before practice and called Jackson by name. Logan Power said hey, too.
Jackson, a future left-handed pitcher for the Rebels (in 14 years, and just like Drew Pomeranz, Bruce hopes) was 13-0 in Rebel games he's attended prior to Monday. I got a text late in the game Monday night from Bruce.
"Jackson is here."
His grandmother had brought him to the game in the late innings.
When Matt Smith tripled to score two runs and make it 3-1 in the eighth, Jackson asked his mom if the game was over?
With Jackson's pal, Drew, on the mound, clearly the Hilltoppers were done.
I say Jackson Newman should spend his birthday weekend at Swayze, don't you agree?
My phone, as I'm sure most of yours did, blew up with text messages after the game.
"If you have adequate words to describe this one, I don't know what they'd be. Drew will be the only word needed. There were a lot of folks left in tears of joy after that one."
There are several memorable Ole Miss players who can be easily identified by one name - Archie, Eli, Jake, Chucky, Jevan, Head, World-Class Glass, Rahim, Armintie.
Drew? Could be now.
"I guess my buddy Jake is off the hook."
That one was from a student referring to Jake Morgan. I thought the same thing, about how Morgan must feel like a pretty good weight was lifted from his shoulders when the final out Monday night was recorded.
Guess that one speaks for itself, or was he texting a higher authority and I mistakenly got it instead?
From a friend, alum and Spirit subscriber in Houston, Texas. He spoke for all.
And so it went after a most Memorable Monday at Swayze Field.
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