OMAHA, Neb. † With Oklahoma’s stay in Omaha, everything had gone according to plan. They had played the minimum number of games and went into the game on Saturday-evening with the pitching line-up for the weekend.
It’s never that easy. Come on, you knew that.
Mississippi did to Oklahoma what Oklahoma did to their opponents in the first three games of the Men’s College World Series and won the opening game of the Championship Series 10-3 on Saturday-evening at Charles Schwab Field.
Unusually sloppy early. Wrong side of big two hits consistently. And then the bottom fell out as the Rebels went back to back in the eighth.
“That’s what’s so great about baseball. You can go 4-4, 5-5, and the next day you can go 0-4, 0-5, and that’s why you have to come back and keep playing the game and learning the lessons that you learned, just like these guys said,” confirmed Skip Johnson† “We woke up this morning and had to win two more games. Tomorrow morning we get up and have two more games to win. It’s happening.”
Flush it. regroup. And bounce back.
A task this Oklahoma has to do over and over again. Even as resilient as this group has been all season, Saturday night’s setback felt different.
Blake Robertson said they would learn from it.
“Well, we’re not giving up. We’re going pitch after pitch, and we’re not giving up, and we’re going to fight to the last,” said Robertson. “Like I said, we were beaten in every aspect of the game until the sixth inning, and we still had a chance to come back and win. So it’s just an unfortunate loss for us, but it doesn’t define us as a team.”
Ole Miss starter Jack Daugherty previously didn’t allow a baserunner to five Jackson Nicklaus and Sebastian Ordunoc started the sixth with back-to-back singles. Kendall Pettis then put down a bunt and Garrett Wood threw the ball to the right, allowing Nicklaus to come by and score. Suddenly there was life in a previously lifeless offense in Oklahoma.
Enter Mason Nichols. He took out Peyton Graham. Then blew a Blake Robertson fastball. And a rally that knocked Daugherty out of the game had the momentum quickly shifted back to Ole Miss’s dugout. Gut thrust.
“It’s happening. It’s baseball. Me and Peyton were talking about getting back up. Success is coming. Tanner Tredaway picked us up on the walk which helped a lot. It happens,” said Robertson.
Ole Miss landed the knockout blow in the eighth, scoring four runs on three Rebel home runs. TJ McCants started the rally with two outs when he started a field from Chazz Martinez and sent it into Rebs’ bullpen. Calvin Harris and Justin Bench followed suit with their own solo recordings.
The first back-to-back-to-back home runs in the Men’s College World Series since LSU hit three bombs in consecutive at bats in 1998. Six of the Rebels runs came with two outs.
“We didn’t execute our game plan. There are balls that have fallen in. We lost them in the lights. Booted ground balls, swinging at balls out of the zone. That happens in a game where you try really hard,” Johnson said.
“If you try this game, you fail. This is what it does to you, and you have to make sure you can control yourself, take a breath and make it just one throw.”
Now Oklahoma has to turn the page. Fast. Sunday afternoon the season is at stake with Cade Horton get the ball in game two.