At baseball’s highest level, ‘a lot of good arms’

Ole Miss junior Sikes Orvis sits alone in the dugout after the Rebels' 4-1 loss to Virginia on Saturday. (AP Photo/Eric Francis)

Ole Miss junior Sikes Orvis sits alone in the dugout after the Rebels’ 4-1 loss to Virginia on Saturday. (AP Photo/Eric Francis)

By Parrish Alford

Daily Journal

OMAHA, Neb. – It had been 42 years since Ole Miss reached Omaha, and the Rebels’ return required them to show off their versatility.

Ole Miss competed with pitching and defense, less so with the hitting and aggressive offense that became a trademark of a 48-win season.

The Rebels excelled at the plate as they eliminated TCU, but their team batting average for four CWS games was just .187.

For all the talk about the challenges of TD Ameritrade Park, the issue was not venue but opposition, Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said.

“We scored six runs the other night, and that (tied for) the most here, so it’s not us,” Bianco said. “Everybody has trouble scoring here.

“Is it the park, sure? Is it the bats, sure? Is it the ball, sure? But it’s also the ptichers. We just faced some very good pitchers, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be here.”

Virginia’s staff was especially challenging, holding the Rebels to seven hits and two runs in 18 innings.

It was TCU, though, who boasted the top team earned run average in the country, and Ole Miss posted 11 hits and six earned runs in eliminating the Horned Frogs 6-4.

TCU became the second national seed eliminated from the NCAA tournament by Ole Miss.

Good approach

Players say lack of consistency had nothing to do with their approach on offense.

“All year we were aggressive early in counts with fastballs. Sometimes you go into funks. It just seemed that we weren’t hitting as many line drives and getting on top of balls, maybe popping up too many balls or chasing pitchers’ pitches and getting ourselves out,” third baseman Austin Anderson said.

“Obviously the park played pretty big, winds usually gusting in. The ball doesn’t carry. We hit a lot of home runs this year. We also hit a lot of line drive gap shots, stole bases. We were effective one through nine.”

The Rebels’ top CWS hitter was second baseman Preston Overbey, who was 3 for 9 with a double and a pair of walks.

Center fielder Auston Bousfield, the team’s top hitter for much of the season, was 0 for 11 with four walks.

The Rebels had five extra-base hits for the CWS, all of them doubles, and four of them against TCU.

Ole Miss players say they hit good pitching throughout the season as they went 19-11 in conference play and won the SEC West title.

The difference, though, was in the number of top-rated arms they faced here.

“You see a lot of great arms in the SEC. The teams that were here, they had those guys, but they’d go out of the game, and they’d bring in another guys throwing 94 or 97,” catcher Will Allen said. “There were a lot of good arms, a lot of guys drafted very high. It was very similar to an SEC weekend just probably more depth.”

parrish.alford@journalinc.com