Ole Miss baseball advances to College World Series finals behind Dylan DeLucia's shutout
OMAHA, Neb. — Pitching on short rest, right-hander Dylan DeLucia willed Ole Miss baseball to the College World Series championship series for the first time in program history.
The Rebels defeated Arkansas 2-0 Thursday in a winner-take-all elimination game to advance to face Oklahoma for the national championship beginning Saturday. DeLucia pitched one of the best and most clutch games in school history, throwing a complete game shutout in which he allowed four hits and no walks with seven strikeouts.
In four starts since the beginning of the NCAA Tournament, DeLucia has allowed five runs in 28 ⅓ innings (1.59 ERA) with 38 strikeouts and three walks.
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Ole Miss was the last at-large team selected into the NCAA Tournament field but has made the best of it, going 8-1 in the postseason. The Rebels are now two wins away from the first national championship the program has ever won.
Here is how Ole Miss (40-23) took down Arkansas (46-21) to advance to the College World Series finals.
DeLucia solidified his status as a College World Series hero Thursday. He has allowed one run on eight hits in 17 ⅔ innings across his two starts in Omaha, guiding the Rebels to wins in both.
All season, DeLucia has thrived when he's been able to pitch to contact. That was again his strategy Thursday. Arkansas made frequent contact but rarely squared DeLucia up; three of the Razorbacks' four hits were seeing-eye singles and the Hogs didn't put two runners on base at the same time after the first inning.
Offense comes through as needed
Ole Miss' hitters rediscovered their knack for timely hits Thursday. Left fielder Kevin Graham opened the scoring with a two-out double in the fourth inning, scoring Justin Bench to give the Rebels a 1-0 lead. Then, after first baseman Tim Elko and Graham contributed back-to-back singles to open the seventh inning, right fielder Calvin Harris singled Elko home to extend the Rebels' lead.
Arkansas pitcher Connor Noland has a fantastic start in his own right, striking out seven in eight innings. Ole Miss logged seven hits against him and only Graham's double went for extra bases.
This is Ole Miss' sixth trip to the College World Series and the first time the Rebels have won three games. As has been the case since May, the Rebels have been lethal with DeLucia or freshman left-hander Hunter Elliott on the mound.
DeLucia likely won't be available until a potential third game against Oklahoma on Monday, and even then he'd be throwing on three days of rest. The Rebels will have to find other pitching options like they did on Wednesday when John Gaddis, Jack Washburn and Jack Dougherty pitched well.
Even if Ole Miss can count on Elliott to guide them to one victory, the Rebels are going to need to find another to win the three-game series against the Sooners to claim the national championship.
Contact Nick Suss at 601-408-2674 or [email protected] Follow @nicksuss on Twitter.