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Rebels, Tribe Will Try to Spoil Regional for Host Pack

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Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE

Yesterday, we introduced you to Binghamton, N.C. State's first opponent in the Raleigh regional. Ole Miss and Bill and Mary round out the bracket as the #2 and #3 seeds, respectively. Here's a little more info on both clubs:

The Rebels (37-22) have a deep and talented pitching staff (3.11 team ERA) led by Bobby Wahl (9-0, 1.99), an undefeated ace and possible first-round pick in the June draft. Mike Bianco has pledged to reserve Wahl for day two of the tournament when he expects to meet the host Pack in the winner's bracket with the right to play for the regional championship on the line. Or maybe he will just keep saving Wahl for the next game until there is no next game, as he did in the SEC tournament. The Rebels bowed out in three games without ever running their ace out to the bump. If Wahl pitches on June 1st as expected, it will have been two weeks since he last toed the rubber.

Mike Mayers (5-5, 2.98) and Short Start Sam Smith (3-0, 3.11), who has only figured in the decision three times in 14 starts thanks to averaging less than five innings per outing, give the Rebel rotation depth. And Bianco has a number of quality options out of the pen; four Rebel relievers have made at least 20 appearances and posted an ERA under 3.00, led by closer Brett Huber (3-2, 1.54, 12 saves). Huber has averaged over a strikeout per inning but can get wild as a polecat, or even a Tzamtzis. Huber has issued 17 free passes and uncorked six wild pitches in 23 1/3 innings. Matt Denny (2-1, 2.14), Tanner Bailey (4-2, 2.88, four saves), and Aaron Greenwood (3-5, 2.96, two saves) can also put out fires for Ole Miss, which recorded saves in 19 of its 37 wins. The Rebels play a lot of close games.

Offensively, there is not much fire to speak of beyond junior catcher Stuart Turner, who has posted a .381/.452/.533 triple slash line so far this season. He leads the Rebels in hits (80), doubles (15), home runs (five), RBI (50), and sacrifice flies (eight). However, a lot like the Pack's own Turner, Trea, Stu's numbers have declined precipitously through the rigors of conference play. After the first month of the season, Stuart Turner was batting .497/.527/.762. His overall OPS is nearly 150 points higher than his mark against SEC competition, and, like most catchers, he is a bit of a slug. Stu grounded into a team-high eight twin killings and was caught in three of his five stolen base attempts.

Stuart Turner is an excellent defensive catcher, and his glove should get him drafted inside the first five rounds of the June draft. He cut down 49% of would-be thieves this season, making a Turner-versus-Turner battle for a stolen base an intriguing potential matchup to watch if and when the Rebels and Pack meet. Brett Austin should have a chance to gun down a few runners as well. Bianco likes to run (80 stolen base attempts) despite his team's utter inefficiency in this regard (44 stolen bases, or a 55% success rate).



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Bill & Mary ride into Raleigh after a bender of a weekend in the Colonial Athletic Association conference tournament. The Tribe (37-22) outslugged James Madison 20-19 in the opening round only to see eventual tournament winner Towson return the 20-run favor in a 20-13 triumph over the Tribe. You can see Tom O'Brien's impact on the state of Virginia there. The Tribe never should have punted.

Bill & Mary came back with 12 more runs to stay alive against Northeastern before eventually running out of a gas in a more baseball-like 5-2 loss that sent the upstart Towson Tigers dancing. Before being held to a pair of runs in the championship, the Tribe had averaged 14.75 runs over a four-game stretch that included a 14-0 shutout over Georgia State to close the regular season.

The high-scoring run belies the true nature of the Tribe. You might be surprised to learn that they were out-homered 34-17 on the season. Bill & Mary only has one player with a truly eye-popping OPS, bruising first baseman Michael Katz. The 6-2, 230-pound sophomore dropped 10 bombs as a freshperson and has posted a .365/.453/.563 triple slash line so far in 2013. His five home runs lead the team this year, and his 47 RBI are tied for the team lead with Ryan Lindemuth. Katz has also gapped 22 two-baggers.

The Tribe's offense goes the Jake Armstrong way, walking and leaning into pitches to get on base. Bill & Mary took 218 walks while its staff allowed just 131; the Tribe took 85 bruises while hitting opponents just 35 times. That's a difference of 137 base runners over the course of the season, or 2.3 runners per game. Throw strikes and don't hit anybody and you have a very good chance of shutting Bill & Mary down.

The Tribe have their best chance to shut opponents down with John Farrell on the mound. The senior moved from the closer role as a junior to the starting rotation and responded by going 11-2 with a 2.80 ERA. Like most Tribe pitchers, he rarely walks anybody (13 in 109 1/3 innings). That efficiency allows him to work deep into games; he has completed four starts and the Tribe have 10 complete games as a team.

Jason Inghram (8-6, 3.46), who has gone the distance three times, gives the Tribe a competent second starter, but you can see why these guys often go the distance when you scroll down the team stats page. Only eight Tribe hurlers have made 10 or more appearances and there is a lot of hittableness trotting in from the bullpen. The Tribe are a bit of a surprise as an at-large pick from the CAA, and while they have impressive wins over Clemson and UNC-Wilmington, they simply do not have the depth to be dangerous for very long.