OMAHA, Neb. - Ole Miss bcame out swinging in its 10-3 victory in Game 1 against Oklahoma in the Men's College World Series championship series.
When it was over, the Rebels had 16 hits in the game with four home runs, including back-to-back-to-back round-trippers to put the game out of reach in the eighth inning. Tim Elko led the way with four hits overall and one of the home runs, while the unlikely trio of TJ McCants, Calvin Harris and Justin Bench combined to hit the three consecutive homers that put the game away in the eighth.
But it wasn't just offense that gave the Rebels a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.
The Rebel pitchers-starter Jack Dougherty and relievers Mason Nichols and Josh Mallitz-were totally in command of the mound and kept a potent Oklahoma offense down most of the night.
Ole Miss wasted no time whatsoever getting on the board, rallying with two outs in the top of the first inning.
Elko started the rally with a single. He went to second on a wild pitch and scored when his teammate and apartment roommate Kevin Graham laced an opposite-field base hit to left field. Graham then stole second, got to third on a wild pitch, and scored when Oklahoma's Peyton Graham could not handle a hard groundball hit by rhe Rebels' Kemp Alderman. The misplay resulted in just the third error of the entire season for the usually sure-handed shortstop and gave Ole Miss a 2-0 lead.
The Rebels scored in each of the next two innings as well.
In the second, Calvin Harris singled and advanced to second on another wild pitch before Justin Bench singled him home to make it 3-0. And in the third, Elko hit a laser shot just over the right-field wall in the corner for his 24th home run of season and his second in the MCWS, extending the Ole Miss lead to 4-0.
Meanwhile, starting Ole Miss pitcher Dougherty was dealing. He faced the minimum number of Oklahoma batters over the first five innings, setting down 15 in a row while striking out six, including five in a row at one point.
Dougherty, who hadn't started a game since March, thus became the first pitcher to carry a perfect game into the sixth inning of a MCWS game since the NCAA Tournament expanded its field to 64 teams in 1999.
Dougherty did not give up a hit until Jackson Nicklaus ripped a single to open up the bottom of the sixth for Oklahoma. That quickly became the beginning of the end for Dougherty's otherwise brilliant time on the mound, as Nicklaus' hit was followed by another single lined to the outfield by Sebastian Orduno and a bunt single by Kendall Harris coupled with a throwing error on the play that allowed Nicklaus to score. When Dougherty followed that with a walk to Oklahoma leadoff hitter John Spikerman, the Ole Miss starter's night was suddenly over.
With the bases still loaded and still no one out, reliever Nichols, an Ole Miss freshman, struck out Oklahoma's best hitter in Graham and No. 3 hitter Blake Robertson back-to-back before walking cleanup hitter Tanner Treadway, forcing in a second run for the Sooners. Nichols then enticed Oklahoma's Jimmy Crooks to hit a weak groundball right back to him, ending the threat with the Rebels still holding a 4-2 lead.
Nichols was terrifc in his two innings of work, walking just one but retiring the other six batters he faced, five by strikeouts.
The Rebels were far from finished with their offensive fireworks, too, saving their most explosive at-bats for the top of the eighth inning, when McCants, Harris and Bench added back-to-back-to-back home runs to extend the lead to 8-2. McCants, who did not start the game, hit a two-run blast that was folowed by the back-to-back solo shots by Harris and Bench.
McCants, Harris and Bench became the first trio to hit back-to-back-to-back homers in a MCWS game since LSU's Brad Kresse, Clint Earnhart and Wes Davis accomplished it vs. Mississippi State in 1998.
Ole Miss followed its four-run eighth with a single run in the ninth that finally completed the scoring.
Peyton Chatagnier added three hits for Ole Miss while Bench, Alderman and Harris had two apiece.
Dougherty earned the win on the mound, giving up just two earned runs on three hits in his five-plus innings of work. Josh Mallitz closed the game out, pitching the final two innings while surrendering one run.
The 16 hits Ole Miss piled up overall were the most in a College World Series finals game since 2008.
Meanwhile, the four hits registered solely by Elko matched the team total managed by Oklahoma through the first eight innings. The Sooners ended up with five.
The two teams square off again at 3 p.m. ET Sunday in Game 2 of the series on ESPN. If the Rebels win, they are national champions. If the Sooners win, the deciding Game 3 will be played Monday night at 7 p.m. ET.