The Oklahoma Sooners dug themselves a hole early in Game 1 of the Men’s College World Series Finals; Ole Miss sealed them late in the Rebels’ 10-3 victory.
Two wild pitches from OU starter Jake Bennett and an error from shortstop Peyton Graham helped the Rebels take a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Another wild throw from Bennett got Ole Miss tacked on another run in the second inning, and a solo home run by star first baseman Tim Elko in the third gave the Rebels all the score they needed Saturday night. OU’s future SEC opponent punctuated the win with back-to-back eighth-inning homers by pinch hitter TJ McCants and outfielders Calvin Harris and Justin Bench.
The loss puts OU in a do-or-die situation in the best-of-three series when the Sooners take to the field in Omaha on Sunday. OU rookie Cade Horton is expected to take the mound in Game 2 and will be looking to continue a stellar playoff streak in which he allowed a total of six earned runs in 18.1 innings. Horton struck out 11 in six innings in his last appearance, a 6-2 win over Notre Dame on Sunday. Ole Miss will counter with his own freshman, Hunter Elliott, who is 5-3 this year with a 2.70 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 73.1 innings pitched.
Despite the rocky start, Bennett threw a solid game. The Bixby southpaw allowed four runs — three earned — with 10 strikeouts and no walks in 6.1 innings.
Ole Miss starting pitcher Jack Daugherty also had a strong outing. Daugherty didn’t allow a base runner in the first five innings of the game before giving way to first-year reliever Mason Nichols. Nichols inherited three no-out baserunners in the bottom of the sixth after OU second baseman Jackson Nicklaus scored on a throwing error from Rebels third baseman Garrett Wood. Nichols walked in a run, but Ole Miss escaped the set relatively unscathed with a 4-2 lead.
The Sooners scored a third run late in the eighth inning, but the Rebels’ three early-inning bombs had already given Ole Miss an insurmountable lead.
The first pitch of Sunday’s Game 2 is scheduled for 2 p.m. CT on ESPN.