Friday, February 3, 2023

2022’s Top Story: Ole Miss Baseball’s Rise to National Championship

By Alyssa Schnugg

News editor

alyssa.schnugg@hottytoddy.com

The 2022 NCAA National Baseball Champions, the Ole Miss Rebels, hold up the trophy after winning in Omaha. Photo via Ole Miss Baseball

It was as if the Ole Miss baseball team had Journey’s song, “Don’t Stop Belivin’,” on autoloop.

The last team to make the field at the NCAA Tournament, won 10 of 11 games in the College World Series in June, finally beating the undefeated Oklahoma Sooners and bringing home the National Championship trophy.

It is a “rising through the ashes story” that became the Top Story for 2022 way before 2022 came to an end.

But it wasn’t an easy journey for the team.

The Rebels ended the regular season 14-16 in the SEC. By May 1, they were 22-17.

On Memorial Day, Ole Miss was the last team in the Coral Gables, Fla., Regional facing Arizona, a team that knocked them out of the Super Regionals in 2021.

The Rebels defeated Arizona and No. 6 Miami to advance to the Championship game against Arizona, which came back through the loser’s bracket. Ole Miss defeated Arizona 22-6 to advance to the Super Regionals against Southern Miss.

Thousands came out for the parade to welcome the Ole Miss baseball team home. Photo via Ole Miss Baseball

Ole Miss kept the moment going with dominant pitching against the Golden Eagles. The Rebels swept Southern Miss in two games to advance to Omaha for the first time since 2014.

In Omaha, the Rebels’ side of the bracket had them matched up against two SEC Western Division opponents, Auburn and Arkansas. Ole Miss defeated both Auburn (5-1) and Arkansas (13-5) to secure the driver’s seat.

Arkansas met the Rebels in the bracket finals for the right to go to the national championship. Arkansas won the first game (3-2), but the next day Ole Miss had a dominating complete game performance by Dylan DeLucia that punched the Rebels’ ticket to go take on Oklahoma for the national title.

Ole Miss swept the Sooners with a 10–3 victory in game 1 and a 4–2 victory in game 2 to win the program’s first national championship.

After the Rebels returned to Oxford, the Oxford, Lafayette and University community celebrated their champions with a parade through the downtown Square that culminated with a celebration inside the Oxford-University Stadium.

At the parade, fans lined the sidewalks and streets holding signs and chanting “Hotty Toddy.”

Video by the Oxford Police Department

The celebration on Swayze Field was aired on the SEC Network and attended by tens of thousands of fans.

Coach Mike Bianco was introduced onto the field as the “head coach of the National Championship Ole Miss Rebels, followed by the team members.

UM Chancellor Glenn Boyce was joined on the field by Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill, Ole Miss baseball legends Jake Gibbs and Don Kessinger and Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves in welcoming, honoring and congratulating Bianco and the team.

However, the celebration didn’t end in June.

The Ole Miss baseball team visited with kids at the Children’s of Mississippi Hospital. Photo via Ole Miss Baseball

In late July into early August, the team went on the “Tour of Champions,” for the 2022 NCAA Baseball National Championship Trophy, giving fans the chance to see the trophy up close and in person.

In November, the team was honored once again with a four-day celebration where the team was honored at halftime during the Rebels’ home football game against Alabama where they also took part in the Walk of Champions.

The team traveled to Jackson on Nov. 10 where they had lunch at the Governor’s mansion and then stopped at the Children’s of Mississippi Hospital where they visited with the young patients.


Sports editor Adam Brown contributed to this story.

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