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2012 NCAA Baseball Tournament: Vanderbilt, Ole Miss Eliminated on Final Night of Regional Play

Not quite. (Photo from Sunday)
Not quite. (Photo from Sunday)

There was a point Monday night at which it looked like both Vanderbilt and Ole Miss might advance to the super regionals. The Rebels led their game against TCU as late as the middle of the fourth; Vanderbilt took the lead in the bottom of the third and held it until the ninth.

But the operate words in that sentence -- "as late as" and "until" -- tells you what eventually happened in both of those games. The Horned Frogs scored seven runs in the fourth through seventh innings to take a 7-3 lead before a late rally by Ole Miss made it a 7-4 final.

The onslaught by N.C. State didn't start until the eighth inning, when they cut Vanderbilt's lead to 7-6. Vanderbilt changed pitchers three times in that frame before they managed to control the damage. Another pitching change in the ninth came too late to prevent the blown lead, and N.C. State won the game 9-7.

For Vanderbilt, it was a bit of a surprise that they even got this far. The Commodores started out slow, largely because they were turning to a lot of first-year players early on. But they blew through the end of the season and all the way to the SEC Championship Game to win their way to the tournament.

Ole Miss had an uneven season. They lost two out of three to Auburn and beat Florida 2-1 -- both series were in Oxford. Georgia took the series in Athens; the next weekend, Ole Miss defeated Arkansas in Oxford. Then there was the three-game sweep at Vanderbilt at the end of the season, though that's not terrible given how well the Commodores were playing then.

The losses mean the SEC will send "only" four teams to the super regionals: LSU, South Carolina, Florida and Arkansas. That's tied with the Pac-12 for most teams from any conference in the next round of the tournament. It's still pretty good overall.

But there were a few minutes Monday night when it seemed like it might be a little bit better.