April 24, 2013
Ole Miss scored 11 runs on 11 hits Tuesday night and rolled Arkansas State 11-1 in Jonesboro to sweep the season series and pick up its 20th non-SEC win of the season.
That number is normally seen as the benchmark for a successful nonconference season and has now been accomplished in seven of Mike Bianco's 13 seasons as head coach. Ironically, however, out of the three previous six teams to hit 20 wins, three hosted regionals and three didn't. The 2006 (17 SEC wins) and 2007 (16 SEC wins) teams each hosted with 19 wins.
Here's a rundown of the regular season nonconference wins during Bianco's tenure.
The Rebels still have a shot to match the 2005 team's total, as No. 18 Ole Miss (30-12) hosts St. Louis on May 1 and travels to USM on May 14. Despite the impressive slate, it's been somewhat of a disappointing mark due to other teams' failures and losses in recent rivalry games.
Ole Miss dropped games to MSU and USM at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss., and dropped the season series to Memphis, one game in Oxford and one at AutoZone Park.
The Rebels noteworthy non-league series is a sweep against TCU, which began the season in the top 15 but is only 19-21 overall and 7-8 in the Big XII. The Horned Frogs have won five of their last six, including series wins over Baylor and Oklahoma State. A strong TCU finish would help Ole Miss' RPI which is already in the top 20.
Ole Miss also swept nonconference series from Rhode Island (22-17, 9-3), Florida International (22-17, 10-8) and Lipscomb (14-28, 4-11).
COMATOSE CATS?: While you were sleeping, Kentucky was losing an 18-inning game at Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers hit a solo home run in the 18th to beat the Wildcats 3-2.
It was 1-1 after regulation, and each team scored a run in the 13th to keep playing. The game lasted 5 hours, 57 minutes. Kentucky was getting on the bus at 2 a.m., give or take 42 hours before facing Bobby Wahl and his 0.82 SEC ERA on ESPNU. The Wildcats have to be kicking themselves, as the Hilltoppers' 13th-inning run was unearned.
Kentucky threw closer Trevor Gott 70 pitches on Tuesday, so that will be something to watch if the game is close on Thursday.
Kentucky enters the three-game series in Oxford having lost seven in a row - two to Tennessee, one to Louisville, three to South Carolina and one to Western Kentucky.