By Hunter Cornejo
The Ole Miss Rebels won their first NCAA baseball National Championship in a 4-2 victory over Oklahoma in Game 2. Ole Miss freshman starter Hunter Elliott pitched a phenomenal first 5 innings, while only allowing a leadoff single to start off the game. Elliott was able to pick up 6 strikeouts on 96 pitches. Cade Horton was able to give the Sooners the chance to force a game 3, Horton picked up a career-high 13 strikeouts. Horton was able to break his previous strikeout record that he had a week ago against Notre Dame. In the 6th inning, we saw the second major rule controversy of the NCAA tournament. John Spikerman laid down a successful bunt to score Jackson Nicklaus. However, John Spikerman was called out after an Ole Miss challenge. Due to the rule, the umpires are not allowed to speculate if a run scored. In this case, it should not have been an issue because Nicklaus scored as Ole Miss pitcher Hunter Elliott was fielding the ball. Jackson Nicklaus was sent back to third base, and Peyton Graham flied out to end the inning. The heartbreaking reversal allowed for a momentum shift in which Jacob Gonzalez capitalized on hitting a solo home run to give Ole Miss a 1-0 lead. The Sooners were able to answer back in a two-out bases loaded situation in the seventh inning. Jimmy Crooks hit a double down the first base line. Jackson Nicklaus got back the Sooners’ lost run when he doubled, scoring Crooks. Ole Miss turned to reliever Mason Nichols, who hit Orduno, loading up the bases. Kendall Pettis was able to fake a bunt four times in a row to draw a walk, to take a 2-1 lead. Ole Miss then turned to John Gaddis, who struck out John Spikerman, ending the inning. Cade Horton continued his dominant performance in the bottom of the 7th inning when he struck out the side. John Gaddis was able to shut down the heart of the Sooner lineup in the top of the 8th inning to give the Rebels the momentum they needed to win a National Championship. Once the Sooners turned to closer Trevin Michael, it was all about the Rebels. Trevin Michael had a rare bad performance in which he threw 2 wild pitches, allowing 2 runs to score. Ole Miss senior reliever Brandon Johnson was able to clinch the National Championship by striking out the three batters he faced.
This loss will hurt Sooner Nation for years to come. Although the Sooners will be losing some of their star players, Skip Johnson stated that the Sooners will be back in Omaha. Cade Horton was not ready for his time to be over on the mound when he was pulled by Manager Skip Johnson. However, Johnson said that he had to look out for Horton’s future, which meant pulling Horton at 107 pitches. Cade Horton will most likely be drafted in the first round of the MLB Draft on July 17th. The run that Oklahoma had over the past month will never be forgotten among die-hard Sooner fans.
Congratulations to Ole Miss on their National Championship. Ole Miss was able to win the National Championship, after sweating out Memorial Day waiting to hear their name called during the selection show. Once the Rebels snuck into the bracket, they fought on the road, all the way to Omaha.