OU baseball loses Game 1 of College World Series finals to Ole Miss


OMAHA, Neb. — The Rebels took a victory lap around Charles Schwab Field.

Ole Miss held a two-run lead over Oklahoma during the eighth inning of Saturday’s College World Series Finals opener when it caught fire at the plate.

TJ McCants ignited the scoring spree by connecting on a pitch from Chazz Martinez and sending it into the crowd in right field for a two-run homer.

Calvin Harris added fuel to the fire on the next at-bat with a solo home run over the wall in center field. Finally, Justin Bench brought the house down with a solo homer to left field on the following at-bat.

“We got some balls in their hot zone, and they deposited them,” OU head coach Skip Johnson said. “They’re good players. We’ve got to continue to move forward and really execute what our game plan is.”

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Ole Miss is the first CWS team to hit back-to-back-to-back homers since LSU in 1998. 

The home run derby helped the Rebels earn a 10-3 victory and move one win away from a national championship. Ole Miss and OU play Game 2 at 2 p.m. Sunday.

“We don’t give up,” redshirt sophomore Blake Robertson said. “We go pitch to pitch, and we don’t give up. We’re going to fight to the last out. It’s just an unfortunate loss for us, but it doesn’t define us as a team.”

The Rebels capitalized on a shaky start on the mound from Jake Bennett. After throwing two wild pitches in the first inning that helped Ole Miss claim a 2-0 lead, the redshirt sophomore sent a ball in the direction of Bench in the following frame.

It was way off.

Catcher Jimmy Crooks lept from his crouched position to try to coral the wild pitch, but it eluded his glove and smacked the backstop.

Harris reached second base, and he reached home when Bench sent a line drive into right field for an RBI single.

Meanwhile, Ole Miss’ starting pitcher came out guns blazing.

Jack Dougherty got the ball after only making three previous starts this season, and he stifled an OU offense that entered the day averaging eight runs per game in the CWS.

After a solo homer by Tim Elko extended Ole Miss’ lead to 4-0 in the top of the third inning, Dougherty struck out the side in the bottom of the frame. All three OU batters went down swinging.

“You can’t take anything away from him,” Robertson said of Daugherty. “He was executing pitches. I think we were a little sped up. Lesson learned.”

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Dougherty had never thrown more than five innings in a college game. Sure enough, the sophomore began to lose steam in the sixth after pitching a no-hitter through five.

A throwing error allowed OU to trim the deficit to 4-1, and Dougherty loaded the bases with no outs by walking John Spikerman on the next at-bat.

That’s when freshman pitcher Mason Nichols came in to restore order for the Rebels. He escaped further trouble by retiring three of the four batters he faced, although a bases-loaded walk to Tanner Tredaway made it a 4-2 game.

Bennett’s day ended with one out in the top of the seventh inning. The MLB prospect finished with 10 strikeouts and three earned runs in what likely marked his final outing with OU.

Following Ole Miss’ trio of home runs in the eighth inning, Blake Robertson trimmed the deficit to 8-3 with an RBI single in the bottom of the frame. 

But the Rebels weren’t finished. They tacked on another two runs in the ninth to secure the 10-3 win.

OU will look to keep its championship hopes alive on Saturday.

“I think the learning lesson is they learned to take it one pitch at a time,” Johnson said. “We woke up this morning and still had to win two games. We’ll wake up tomorrow morning and still have to win two games. It happens.”

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