College World Series Preview: Ole Miss vs. Arkansas
OMAHA — Ole Miss and Arkansas play tonight in the College World Series after each team won their respective opening-round game: the Rebels defeated Auburn, 5-1, and Arkansas hammered No. 2 overall seed Stanford, 17-2.
Tonight’s game will be the fourth meeting of the two SEC West foes this season, with the Hogs taking 2-of-3 at Baum-Walker back in April.
“I remember how dangerous they are,” said Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn of the Rebels. “Our comment has always been that if they get it going, they’re as good as anyone in the country,” he added.
“We weren’t sure they were going to get in the tournament. They deserved to get in the tournament by how good they were. They finished strong, and they got in, and they’ve been on a roll.”
Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn on Ole Miss
Here’s a quick look at the Rebels and Hogs in a few statistical categories:
OLE MISS (NCAA rank out of 293 teams)
Record: 38-22 (14-16 SEC)
Strength of Schedule: 11th
Runs/Game: 7.5 (50)
Batting average: .279 (130)
On-base percentage: .375 (130)
Slugging percentage: .494 (29)
Arkansas (NCAA rank out of 293 teams)
Record: 44-19 (18-12 SEC)
Strength of Schedule: 35th
Runs/Game: 7.2 (70)
Batting average: .277 (136)
On-base percentage: .384 (90)
Slugging percentage: .486 (36)
Pitching in Monday’s game
The Hogs will start Zack Morris on the mound, a lefty from Cabot, Arkansas. He’s 6-0 on the season with a 1.89 ERA and will be making his second career start.
In the NCAA Tournament, he’s pitched in three games going 6.2 IP and giving up 8 hits, 2 runs, 4 walks and notching 6 Ks.
Morris threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings during this first start at Oklahoma State in the final game of the NCAA Stillwater Regional.
The redshirt sophomore has pitched 19 times in relief this season, including back on May 1 when he threw three scoreless innings during the Razorbacks’ 4-3 win over Ole Miss in Fayetteville.
The Rebels will counter with true freshman lefty Hunter Elliott. The Tupelo native is 4-3 on the season with a 2.82 ERA. Back on April 30, Elliott allowed three runs, four hits and one walk — and struck out eight — in a six-inning start at Arkansas.
Hunter has pitched 67 innings this season and has 92 strikeouts to just 30 walks.
In the NCAA Tournament, Elliott has pitched in two games, going 12.1 innings pitched, giving up just 6 hits, one run (.73 ERA in the tourney), issuing five walks and notching 18 strikeouts.
The battle continues
The Rebels and Hogs have faced off so many times over the years, and Monday night’s game promises to be yet another great game.
“We’ve had some wars with them, obviously, over the years,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco Sunday.
“Some we’ve won and some we haven’t. They’re really good. And we’ve been good. When you put two teams together who are good, usually they’re pretty good baseball games. Obviously we respect them a ton. What Dave (Van Horn) has done there is an amazing job over his tenure. He’s been there almost as long as I’ve been here. So a lot of really good games. Monday will be another of them.”
Coach Mike Bianco
Support in “Olemaha”
Ole Miss fans and Arkansas supporters are in Omaha in full force. After practice Sunday, Coach Bianco took time to appreciate the Rebels in attendance.
Hotty Toddy!!! ❤️💙 pic.twitter.com/3UuyL1DjgJ
— The Rebel Walk (@TheRebelWalk) June 20, 2022
“I’ve been through send-offs as a player, as an assistant coach and now as a head coach,” Bianco explained.
“I have never seen that many people in the hotel to high-five you and clap for you as you’re getting on the bus. When we got to the stadium (to play Auburn), you could sense that it was a partisan crowd for Ole Miss and that makes you proud. It makes you proud that it means that much to the fanbase. I know it’s not easy to get here. On a drop of a dime in a couple of days, you’ve got to try to find a hotel room, which is nearly impossible. You’ve got to try to find tickets, not to mention that cost…the financial cost…for that many people to show up.”
Coach Bianco on the support of Ole Miss fans
The Rebels and Razorbacks are set for first pitch Monday at 6:00 p.m. CT on ESPN.
(Feature image photo: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)
Evelyn Van Pelt
Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn’s love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.