OMAHA, Neb. – For the first time, Ole Miss baseball plays for a chance at a national championship.
Oklahoma has won the last five Big 12 series, won the conference tournament, disrupted the Florida and Virginia Tech national series in regionals and super regionals, and went 3-0 in the College World Series to advance to the finals. Ole Miss has been on 16-4 since May 1, including 8-1 in the NCAA Tournament. Over their nine post-season games, the Rebels allow only 2.2 runs per game.
These teams are a good reminder that championships often go to good teams who know how to be great at the right time. The Sooners play dominant baseball. The rebels play dominant baseball. One walks away as national champion.
Here’s Clarion Ledger’s Exploration Report and Prediction for the College World Series Championship.
Ole Miss pitching vs. Oklahoma attack
A good measure of all-around offensive success is a batting average above .300, an on-base percentage above .400, or a slugging percentage above .500. Oklahoma will do that this fall. In 10 NCAA Tournament games, the Sooners hit .303 with a .404 on-base percentage and a .517 slugging percentage. Most importantly, Oklahoma scores eight runs per game.
A good measure of a pitcher’s overall success is if he has an ERA of less than 3.00, a batting average of less than 0.225, and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of more than 2.50. Ole Miss will do that this fall. In nine NCAA Tournament games, Rebels pitchers have a 2.11 ERA, a .177 batting average and 5.8 strikeouts forever.
Oklahoma is in this position because of its offense. Ole Miss is in this position because of her pitching. The Rebels probably won’t be able to use ace Dylan DeLucia until Game 3, and even then he will have three days of rest after throwing a full game Thursday. Freshman Hunter Elliott dominated the postseason, but he won’t start until Game 2. Sophomore righthander Jack Dougherty will instead make his first start since March, hoping to keep alive the hot streak of not allowing an earned run in 12 innings since early May.
Benefit: It’s tempting to say Oklahoma has the advantage with DeLucia out of the picture. But as Ole Miss has been doing lately, it’s hard to stand up to the Rebels who are rising up and taking out the Sooners.
Oklahoma pitching vs. Ole Miss attack
Unlike Ole Miss, Oklahoma should have a full rotation from Game 1 onward. Sophomore Jake Bennett has a week of rest before Saturday, freshman Cade Horton has six days of rest before Sunday, and sophomore David Sandlin has four days of rest before. Monday.
Oklahoma has not had nearly the starting pitching success that Ole Miss has had this postseason, but a 3.62 starter ERA is nothing to scoff at. Especially when Horton and Sandlin come off starring in victories against Notre Dame and Texas A&M, where they threw 13 innings together with three earned runs (2.08 ERA), 10 hits, two walks and 23 strikeouts.
Equally important, Ole Miss’s offense has not been nearly as dominant as Oklahoma’s. The Rebels score 7.6 points per game in the NCAA tournament, but do so while hitting .282 and striking out 11.3 versus 4.9 walks per game.
The Arkansas lefties had a lot of success against Ole Miss, especially with their break balls, which bodes well for the southpaw Bennett. But Oklahoma’s bullpen isn’t nearly as deep (4.75 NCAA Tournament ERA), meaning if the Rebels can keep things close early in the games, they should have the option of pulling out late.
Benefit: Ole Miss’s bats are now cold and Oklahoma’s appetizers are peaking at just the right time. Give the Sooners the edge based on those facts alone. But if Ole Miss can put together competitive at bats and increase the number of pitchers from those starters, the Rebels could turn the tide.
Prediction: Ole Miss wins in three matches
These teams are too hot to expect a sweep. Left-handed Bennett has the advantage over Ole Miss’s left-handed lineup in Game 1 and Elliott wins the battle for freshman phenom in Game 2. But in Game 3, with Ole Miss’ bullpen well equipped and DeLucia likely to come back in limited role, it’s easier to trust the depths of the Rebel pitching staff, even if Oklahoma’s attack is as hot as it can be right now.
Contact Nick Suss at 601-408-2674 or [email protected] Follow @nicksuss on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Ole Miss baseball vs. Oklahoma: Our College World Series Prediction