OMAHA, Neb. Of all the Ole Miss baseball teams, in all 22 years coach Mike Bianco, after all the ups and downs, heartbreaks, losses, tribulations, and troubles, this is It is the team that finally brought the trophy back to Oxford.
This Ole Miss baseball team Won a national championship. The 2022 Rebels defeated Oklahoma 4-2 in a fashion comeback on Sunday, using three runs in the eighth inning to bring home the first NCAA-recognized men’s athletic championship in school history.
this teamwhich has fallen from #1 in the polls in March to 7-14 in the SEC game and at risk of missing the conference session on May 1.
this teamwho laid all the starting pitchers in April and had to rely on freshman college transfers and a freshman to save his season.
this teamwho lost four consecutive series in April, lost a month-long cleaning batter Kevin Graham to a wrist injury, sophomore Calvin Harris lost to a slash injury when he hit .524 and lost transfer gate pitchers Jack Washburn and John Gaddis to an ankle injury and an appendectomy in April.
this teamIt was the last big show selected in the NCAA Championship.
this team He is the last steadfast team. World champions. The team that brought back Oxford the trophy it so desperately wanted.
“There’s a lot to be said for how much we’ve beaten this year, how much we’ve had to fight, how much we’ve had to hold each other and not let ourselves get down too much,” said Captain Tim Elko. “This story of our season will be told for years and years and years to come. This is the best Ole Miss baseball team in history, and it feels so good, I am honored to be a part of it.”
It is impossible to overstate the improbability of all this. Ole Miss wasn’t bad just a couple of months ago. The Rebels were so bad that they were making bad teams look good. Alabama, South Carolina and Mississippi had a string of Rebels in three straight weeks and then all missed the NCAA Championship.
Then, after May 1, something clicked. The Rebels have won 18 of their last 22 matches, beating their opponents 160-74. The Ole Miss went 10-1 in 11 NCAA games, making three stops averaging 7.5 runs per game.
It all culminated in five victories at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, matching how many College World Series the Rebels had earned in their history prior to this trip.
“Life is hard, and bad things happen to everyone,” Bianco said. “Good people, bad things happen. These people have worked hard, and I think they have shown a lot of people that you can fall, you can stumble, you can fail, but that doesn’t mean you are a failure. If you keep working hard, you will keep pushing and you will still believe, As Tim said, you can achieve anything.”
Closer Brandon Johnson scored another decisive victory on Sunday. He hit the side in 14 throws, then fainted. Kabir said he usually has a ceremony designed for each rescue. This time, he had nothing. After everything the team went through, he didn’t feel anything. There is no performance. No celebration. Just a continuous pure shock.
Then his colleagues spilled from the bunker and came shouting at him. Senior Ben Van Cleef warned his teammates to prepare for the pain. He warned them that they might have to endure three or four minutes of discomfort at the bottom of the pile because it was not moving.
Graham’s emotions oscillated between shock and delight. For a moment he looked stunned. The other was crying.
Dylan DeLucia, the best player of the tournament, was smiling. He welcomed his family in the first line with hugs and promises of the party.
Senior Max Sioufi is one of the few players to have featured on the team since 2018. He endured a home territorial loss as the National seed in his first year, a super regional loss to win one after Omaha in his sophomore year, and his elimination from the junior season. By COVID-19, Tommy John’s surgery that wiped out his first season and all his ups and downs in 2022.
Through it all, Cioffi knows this team He’s the one who won everything.
“There were a lot of failures,” Chauffi said. “We’ve been so close for so long. Oh my gosh. But I’m telling you what, it’s worth it. Definitely worth it.”
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