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Omaha, NE — Folks making the long trek to Omaha from the State of Mississippi turned Charles Schwab Stadium into Oxford North on Saturday night, as Ole Miss took game one of the National Championship series.
After scoring the first run of the game in the opening inning, the Rebels never looked back thanks to fantastic pitching, winning 10-3 and putting themselves one win away from a title.
Rebels’ head coach decided to go with Jack Dougherty in the starting pitcher spot and it paid off for five innings, not giving up a hit until the 6th inning. But it was the offense that gave Ole Miss the spark it needed to get this game flowing in the right direction.
Scoring three runs with two outs on the board was a perfect start to the first few innings, but it was the Tim Elko home run in the 3rd inning that sent fans into a frenzy. Already feeling like a home game for Ole Miss, the beers were flowing into the air after the Elko blast and the Rebels took the 4-0 lead.
OLE MISS WAS KNOCKED DOWN THIS SEASON BUT FOUGHT ITS WAY BACK FOR A SHOT AT THE TITLE
Heading into the sixth inning, Jack Dougherty had not given up a hit, while recording six strikeouts. Oklahoma started to show signs of life, getting three hits off the starting pitcher, while also drawing a walk, which put the Sooners within 4-1 off a throwing error. Dougherty did his part and his teammates were about to take it home.
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco went to the bullpen and brought in Mason Nichols with bases loaded. The Rebels reliever struck out the first two batters before giving up the walk but got out of the inning only giving up one run.
During the postgame press conference, Dougherty did say there was one person who was mad at him about getting the start.
“My mom actually got mad at me because I didn’t tell her.”
Unfortunately for Oklahoma, leaving the bases loaded and only grabbing one run off the relief pitcher wasn’t going to cut it, especially leading into the final few innings. Credit to Oklahoma pitcher Jake Bennett for throwing 10 K’s, while dealing with the early surge from the Rebels. The atmosphere was a big talking point tonight, with the Ole Miss faithful coming out in force.
Following the game, Oklahoma players were asked if the Rebels crowd advantage played any kind of part in tonight’s matchup, which Blake Robertson quickly shut down.
“Took care of Florida, down in Florida and then went to VT and took care of business. I really don’t think a home crowd for them does anything. I think we actually enjoy shutting up the crowd, so I just don’t think it impacts us.”
OLE MISS FANS HAVE TAKEN OVER OMAHA AND ARE PREPARED FOR COLLEGE WORLD SERIES PARTY
The pro-Ole Miss crowd made their presence known in a very big way, especially after Mason Nichols struck out the side in the bottom 7th. But it was the 8th inning that would send the Rebel faithful into a frenzy and put this game away.
First it was TJ McMcants that hit a 2-run rocket to right field, sending beers in the air from the Ole Miss crowd. But before they could get a refill on their drinks, Calvin Harris hit a bomb to right-center on the next at-bat. Not wanting to be left out of the party, Justin Bench hit another bomb to left field, giving Ole Miss the 8-2 lead and putting this game on cruise control.
For the first time since 1998, a team in the College World Series hit back-to-back-to-back HRs.
Oklahoma looked like they were chasing pitches all night, never looking comfortable at the plate, which is odd for a team that entered this game undefeated in Omaha. Mike Bianco went to the bullpen and brought in Josh Mallitz, who gave up his first run since late April and just the fifth all season. But the Sooners only had four hits entering the bottom ninth, which hasn’t been the norm during this postseason run.
But tonight was all about the Ole Miss offense and how they put a chokehold on the Oklahoma bats.
Can they do this on Sunday when a National Championship is nine innings away? It would be hard to imagine the Sooners having another night like this offensively, but we’ve seen Ole Miss do some impressive things in Omaha with its bats, so one more game like tonight doesn’t feel like a hard task. But, Oklahoma coach Skip Johnson was adamant that they will move on and learn from the loss.
“Hats off to them for taking the momentum of the game, we had a chance to get back in the game, to take the momentum back. Scored two runs, they brought a reliever in, and basically, they took the momentum over from the last game. Think we only won two innings in that game, so we gotta learn from our lesson from today and move on.”
Maybe it’s the feeling of having their backs against the wall during this postseason run or maybe it’s having a home crowd feeling in Omaha. One thing is for certain, this Ole Miss team hasn’t been caught up in the moment, playing loose, even in the one loss to Arkansas.
The environment was a topic during the postgame press conference, as the discussion about the Ole Miss crowd was asked to Mike Bianco.
“It felt like a football game out there. On the field, it was that loud. Swayze (Field) has been pretty loud, but I don’t know if Swayze has ever been that loud. When they played ‘Sweet Caroline’, whenever inning that was, I’ve never heard anything like that, just thankful.”
This thing is far from over though, which Oklahoma will look to prove in the rematch. The determined Rebels will get the Sooners’ best on tomorrow, but how much that will really matter if Tim Elko and the boys continue playing this type of baseball is the question.
Elko is known for his strong leadership and being a guy that is so focused on what’s in front of him, but after the game, he was all smiles and seemed to be in a laid-back mood. But, Elko made it clear that this team is ready for the next one.
“As you know, I don’t really smile a lot. We obviously have another game to win. We’ll be rested up for tomorrow and ready to win one more.”
Sunday afternoon (3 p.m. ET, ESPN) will present the Rebels a chance to make history, bringing home the first National Championship in program history. Can they finish the job and hoist a trophy in front of the perceived home crowd in Omaha?
We are under 24 hours away from finding out.
2 CommentsLeave a Reply
There is nothing better than College Baseball right now. The energy, the fans—particularly Ole Miss—the atmosphere. I pray the sport continues to grow.
When a team is this hot just forget about it. They believe.