Before we get into this, let’s get one thing straight. Neither I nor any level-headed Rebel is calling for Bianco’s head. The "MessageBoardIdiots" doing so are just that. He’s taken a moribund Rebel baseball program and built into a national power and people who gloss over that fact are missing the point.
That said, last night’s debacle was certainly more fodder for the faction of Rebel fans who think Bianco should move on. Why was Goforth lifted? Why was he replaced with our closer when we were up six with two innings to go? Why was our last remaining serviceable starter utilized at the end of the game?
In all honesty, I don’t see how the Rebs bounce back to win tonight. It was as frustrating a loss as the game one Super Regional loss to Arizona State, and the Rebs were trounced in game two of that one. Both teams will be deep into their rotations, but this year’s version of Rebels is not equipped to win a slugfest. If the arms are tired tonight and serving up BP for nine innings, that greatly favors the Hilltoppers.
The flipside is that this is the scrappiest Rebel team in recent memory. They’ve scratched their way back to win some games this season that seemed hopeless at times. They’ll need their gutsiest performance of the year to shake off the sting of last night’s game. You could literally feel the air sucked out of the stadium when Wade Gaynor tied it up with his three-run shot in the eighth. You could also feel the HR coming in the top of the ninth. It was just a matter of who was going to hit it.
Would the game have been different if Gofoth stayed in for the eighth and Morgan came in for the ninth? Who knows?
The bottom line is this, Mike Bianco is a fantastic ambassador for the university. He turned an also-ran sport into a national powerhouse that competes on a national level year after year. He is an elite recruiter. He has stocked the Rebel rosters with more talent top to bottom than any other coach in Ole Miss history. He is not an elite game day coach. Last night’s late-inning changes confirmed that.
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