Rebels’ Ellis relishes second chance
OMAHA, Neb. — Chris Ellis has two goals tonight when Ole Miss takes on Virginia: A much better start and finish.
Mike Bianco announced on Friday that Ellis would start Game 4 of the College World Series, the first Rebel to pitch in Omaha since 1972.
“It’s a great opportunity for me. I can either harness that and do well or succumb to the pressure. I’m not too worried about it. I think we’ll play well (today),” said Ellis, who is 10-2 on the year.
“My family all went to Ole Miss. I grew up an Ole Miss fan and I’ve been coming to games since I could walk. It’s always a dream of mine, and I’ve never been able to experience Ole Miss in the College World Series, so it’s neat to be making history.”
Ole Miss lost the opener of last week’s Lafayette (La.) Super Regional, the game Ellis started, so to get a second chance wasn’t lost on the third-round pick of the Los Angeles Angels.
“I can’t see (today) going much worse than it did last week. I feel like it can only go uphill from here,” said Ellis, who logged just 21⁄3 innings against the Ragin’ Cajuns.
“Last week I had one of those innings that you can’t get out of somehow. Sometimes you get a double play or you throw a strike instead of it going for a ball. It was one of those innings, outings, that just didn’t go my way. I don’t know why it happened, or what was going on. I certainly fixed it up. I was fine in my bullpen the other day.”
Ole Miss, and the other seven teams in the CWS, were treated to a show Friday night at TD Ameritrade Park. Fireworks highlighted the opening ceremonies held for the players. Ellis said the turnout impressed him just because he knows his parents, and others, still haven’t arrived.
“This town obviously loves baseball. It feels like people have been out here waiting for weeks for us all to get here. We had kids all over the place at practice, looking for autographs. It’s been a real neat experience,” Ellis said.
Sikes Orvis knows how popular senior catcher Will Allen is off the field.
For the past two years, Orvis has lived with Allen and he said when the two are out in Oxford, older women can’t help but stare and approach him. And the attention has only increased now the Rebels have made it to the CWS and because of the play Allen made in Game 3 when he blocked the plate, saving a run.
“I have listened and seen all the crazy things that have happened to him the past two years. He grew his hair out and has a beard now. He definitely has some older women that are fans of him,” Orvis said. “A lot of moms will come up to him when we’re out to eat and tell him they love him. Me and Austin Blunt just sit back and give him a hard time about it. He handles it awesome. He’s a great guy, super nice, very approachable. I think that’s why fans love him so much, especially moms.”
Many feel like the Rebels have the most balanced lineup in the CWS, and Orvis agrees that the depth, one through nine, should help against even the best pitching staff.
“We do have a tough out in our lineup, one through nine, and we can beat a team in many different ways,” Orvis said. “We can win the one-run ballgames, we can bunt guys over, play hit-and-run. We can also come out and put up a 15 spot if we had to and slug it out with a team. There isn’t a weak bat in our lineup and everyone can handle the bat and do their job.