By Adam Brown
Ole Miss baseball is headed to its first College World Series Finals appearance in program history on Saturday. The Rebels will take the diamond at Charles Schwab Field against the Oklahoma Sooners for a best of three series for the national championship.
On Friday morning, Ole Miss and Oklahoma both met with the media.
Ole Miss (40-23) defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks 2-0 on Thursday to advance to the finals. Junior Dylan DeLucia delivered a masterful performance on the mound against the Razorbacks.
“It was awesome watching DeLucia out there. Honestly, from him, you expect stuff like that,” freshman starter Hunter Elliott said. “He’s a special guy, a special pitcher, our ace and our guy. When you run him out there even on short rest, even on times like that, you expect him to do big things.”
Barely a month ago the Rebels were simply hoping to get into the field of 64 to go on this run.
“We were 7-14 at one point. I think it’s a lot about belief,” senior third baseman Justin Bench said. “I think all 40 guys we had on our team at the time, we never stopped believing. We’re here now, and the NCAA put us in. Now we’re playing for a national championship.”
Bench added that the team never lost confidence or belief in the team. In winning eight of the last nine games, they played as they step on the field, “We’re going to have the belief and confidence to get the job done.”
Head coach Mike Bianco discussed at the press conference about not knowing who the starter for the Rebels will be on Saturday.
“We’re not sure who we’ll go with,” Bianco said. “(Hunter is on) a little short rest, I don’t think it’s not manageable, but we weren’t sure how we were going to use the pitchers.”
Oklahoma comes into the championship series with an overall record of 45-22 on the season. The Sooners have rolled through bracket one to secure its spot against the Rebels after defeating Texas A&M 5-1 on Wednesday.
The Sooners come in with high numbers on the base path with 73 home runs, and 451 RBIs. As a club they are batting .298 on the season.
“Just a really crazy good offense. When you look, you don’t see those types of numbers, in our league especially. I think 145 stolen bases out of 188 attempts. We probably haven’t had 188 attempts in three years of stolen bases,” Bianco said. “So not only do they steal, they steal at a high percentage. They have three guys that have over 20 stolen bases.”
Ole Miss will be the visiting team in games one and three (if needed) against the Sooners this weekend. The first pitch will be Saturday 6 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m. and Monday at 6 p.m. (if necessary) all on ESPN.