OLEMAHA: How Ole Miss turned season around to win National Championship
OMAHA, NE. (WLBT) - “Don’t let the Rebels get hot.”
From the last team selected into the NCAA Baseball Tournament to the last team standing, the Ole Miss Rebels’ magical postseason run came to a close in Game Two of the College World Series with a 4-2 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners to claim their first National Championship.
The formerly No. 1 ranked Rebels found themselves 7-14 in SEC play in the latter part of the season. Postseason hopes had all but dissipated, and fans were wrongly calling for the firing of 22-year head coach, Mike Bianco. However, as the old saying goes, it’s not about how you start, but about how you finish.
“I think they’ve showed a lot of people that you can fall down, you can stumble and you can fail, but that doesn’t mean you’re a failure,’’ Bianco told ESPN. “If you continue to work hard, you continue to push and you continue to believe, you can accomplish anything. That’s not some poster or some tweet to motivate you. We’ve all heard that. These guys have lived that this season.’’
Tim Elko and the Ole Miss Rebels closed out the season by winning 10-11 of its postseason games as they were ultimately crowned champions Sunday afternoon. Stellar pitching and clutch hitting throughout the entirety of College World Series play headlined the Rebels’ efforts.
Rebel ace Dylan DeLucia won the MVP award as he pitched 16 2/3 innings while only allowing one run and striking out 17 batters. Pitchers Jack Dougherty and Freshman Hunter Elliot, along with the entire pitching staff were immense as well, allowing the fewest runs per game in the aluminum bat era (2.3 runs allowed), according to Billy Watkins of the Mississippi Scoreboard.
Hot hitting was a part of the formula as well, with unlikely heroes T.J. McCants and Jacob Gonzalez stepping up to the plate.
After losing his starting role, T.J. McCants proved he can in the big moments. his homer in Game One sparked a back-to-back-to-back home run barrage, which hadn’t happened in the CWS since 1998. In Game Two, his single in the eighth inning sparked a comeback to be the first team to win the CWS while trailing after 7 innings since 2000.
Shortstop Jacob Gonzalez entered the game on a 0-12 slump. Gonzalez hit a no-doubter to right field to give the Rebels the lead in the sixth inning. In the eighth, his single to right field saw McCants cross home plate to tie the game at 2-2. Gonzalez finished the game going 3-4 in the batter’s box with 2 runs and RBIs.
The Rebels’ win means that the national championship trophy will return to the state of Mississippi for the second consecutive season which hasn’t happened for teams in the same state since 2003 (according to the NCAA), as Mississippi State won it all last year.
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