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Mike Lopresti | | June 21, 2022

The numbers behind Ole Miss' magical run that has the Rebels one win away from the Men's College World Series finals

Arkansas vs. Ole Miss: 2022 College World Series Highlights

OMAHA, Neb. – At what point do we declare Ole Miss a genuine, bona fide, made-in-June magic show?

How about . . . now?

Another night, another act in the tour de force for the last team invited to the NCAA tournament — and the only team nobody has beaten all month. This one a 13-5 demolition of Arkansas Monday night that put the Rebels one win from the Men’s College World Series finals. Every direction they now look, there is astonishing history to make.
“It’s almost surreal,” right fielder Calvin Harris was saying, and his night was as good an example as any.
How is this march becoming the stuff of legend? Let us update the Ole Miss numbers and count the ways.
They are 2-0 here and the last time they could say that was 1956. They have never finished first or second in this event and came into 2022 with five College World Series wins . . . ever.
They are now 7-0 in the postseason by a combined score of 64-17. They have outscored Auburn and Arkansas in Omaha 18-6. They have given up four earned runs in their last four games, and one of those Monday night was when a Razorback fly ball to left was lost in the sun. The bullpen gave up its first earned runs in 30 days on Monday.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: Follow everything from the Men's College World Series here
The team that was one and done in the SEC tournament is now on the brink of the CWS finals. The team that was once 7-14 in SEC play is now three wins from a national championship. The team that did a swan dive from No. 1 early in the season to unranked and anxious about their tournament invitation cannot be stopped. At least, so far.

“Baseball is a big momentum game and we’re building a lot of momentum right now,” said freshman pitcher Hunter Elliot, who gave up three runs in 6.1 innings Monday. “That’s obviously what you look to do in the postseason. and getting hot is a true thing in baseball. Just keep building confidence, that’s what we look to do.”
Said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn, having looked down the business end of Ole Miss, “I just think they’re very veteran, they’re very confident and they’re hard to beat.”
This was to be the latest litmus test for the Ole Miss phenomenon. Or not. It took four batters for the Rebels to get the lead for good. By the end of the fifth inning, they were already ahead 10-3, with seven different players having scored. Star Tim Elko had sent a home run blast nearly across the Missouri River to Iowa. Harris had driven in four runs with a homer and a double. He bats ninth and before Monday night, had 15 RBI and one home run all season. He’s from neighboring Iowa and had more than 60 family and friends in the ballpark. He's now hitting .476 in the postseason, from the bottom of the lineup.
Two days after scoring 17 runs, Arkansas was limited to six hits in the first eight innings by two Ole Miss freshmen. The bottom third of the Rebels lineup reached base nine times. More than half the runs came with two outs. On and on went the stuff of winning postseason baseball.

“The most important thing to win a baseball game is dominant pitching. We’ve had that,” coach Mike Bianco said. “But the second most important thing is timely hits. And we’ve had a ton of those over the last three weeks.
“I think baseball is such a neat game where you can’t call timeout at the end and give it to your best player, design a play to throw it to him or let him take the final shot. Baseball’s that game where you get to the ninth inning, the lineup is the lineup. With two outs, the runners are on and you can’t bat Tim Elko. You can’t devise a play. So the best offenses are the ones who hit 1 through 9 because that’s going to give you the most opportunities to score.

MORE MCWS: Grit defines Auburn's Men's College World Series win over Stanford

To watch Ole Miss lately, it’s easy to forget that not four weeks ago, the Rebels were a bubble team with 22 losses. The postseason numbers of dominance keep growing, like a June balloon. Ole Miss has out-hit opponents 77-40 in the NCAA tournament, and the gap in extra-base hits is 29-15. Rebel hitters have walked 40 times, the opponents 14. The pitchers have allowed 14 earned runs, the hitters have scored 60.
And this is the team that nearly didn’t even get into the tournament
“We stuck together,” outfielder Justin Bench said, “and kept winning games.”

As Bianco watches this stampede from the dugout, he is not on auto-pilot by any means, but this is not the time to be pushing a lot of buttons, either.
“A lot of team meetings we’ve either shortened or did away with," he said. “It’s been a neat run. You’ve seen so many teams over the years get on this. And I think Hunter said, getting hot’s real. It’s not just something facetious. It’s confidence, kids playing well. So when they’re doing that, sometimes the best thing you can do as a coach is let them go. We’ve tried to do that. Sometimes it’s hard. It’s not what we do often. But sometimes it’s the best thing you can do, just get out of their way.”

Indeed, getting in Ole Miss’ way lately has not been a pleasant place to be. Then again, lopsided numbers have been the theme so far in this College World Series. The combined scoring differential through eight games is 77-25, and the Rebels have been a big part of that.

But surely someone will at least slow them down.
Right? Right?

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Division I
Baseball Championship
June 14 - 24, 2024
Charles Schwab Field Omaha | Omaha, NE

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