End of the road? Suddenly punchless Rebels face elimination today

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com Each of the eight teams playing in the College World Series have an Omaha street named for them, including this one for Ole Miss. After a long trail to reach the nation's final eight, the Rebels need a win today to avoid hitting the road for home.

Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Each of the eight teams playing in the College World Series have an Omaha street named for them, including this one for Ole Miss. After a long trail to reach the nation’s final eight, the Rebels need a win today to avoid hitting the road for home.

By Parrish Alford

Daily Journal

OMAHA, Neb. – The SEC’s best-hitting offense produced fewer hits than any team in the opening round of the College World Series.

As Ole Miss faces elimination today against Texas Tech, the Rebels’ plan to change that fact … is to change nothing.

“We have to be aggressive and keep doing what we’ve been doing the whole year,” Ole Miss catcher Will Allen said. “We’re a good team, and we have a good offense.”

Two left-handed pitchers who are also pretty good at doing their thing will face off in Christian Trent for Ole Miss (46-20) and Dylan Dusek for Texas Tech (45-20).

First pitch is 2 p.m.

Trent will get the ball with Ole Miss facing the end of the season for the second time in a week.

Pitcher Christian Trent gets the call for Ole Miss this afternoon. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Pitcher Christian Trent gets the call for Ole Miss this afternoon. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The Rebels had dropped the first game of their super regional at Louisiana-Lafayette when Trent limited the Ragin’ Cajuns to one unearned run in seven innings.

“It’s just like having another ace. He’s unbelievable,” Allen said. “He’s done a great job the whole year. You see him in those big games. He really steps up. He was lights out at ULL, that’s one of the best offenses in the country.”

Trent welcomes the challenge of an elimination game.

“I like it. I wouldn’t say I feel pressure in a bad way. I definitely like being given the ball with an opportunity to move us on to the next day,” he said.

Trent is 9-0 with a 2.21 earned run average in 102 innings.

Dusek, a freshman, will be the second lefty starter the Rebels will face in the CWS, though Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco says he and Virginia’s Nathan Kirby have different styles.

Kirby and right-handed reliever Artie Lewicki combined to throw the first 1-hitter in the CWS since 1983.

“What we try to concentrate on is what we do,” Bianco said. “We’re going to be aggressive and try to make things happen.”

Just one hit

The Rebels didn’t have enough baserunners to try too many things against the Cavaliers. The lone hit came from Errol Robinson in the third inning. He was promptly erased when a hit-and-run turned south.

“We tried to hit and run and got a terrible pitch to Preston (Overbey),” Bianco said. We didn’t have a lot of opportunities. Hopefully we’ll have more opportunities Tuesday.”

Dusek has limited opportunities in his recent hot streak.

He’s 8-0 with a 1.94 ERA in 741⁄3 innings and carries a scoreless innings streak of 232⁄3 innings into the game. That dates back to May 6 in Lubbock against Oklahoma when the Sooners touched him for seven hits, four runs – all earned – in four innings.

Dusek didn’t consistently pitch deep into games until deep into the season. He’s pitched past the seventh in two of his last three starts. He left after five innings in Game 2 of Tech’s super regional against College of Charleston. He had given up only three hits and a walk, but a rested bullpen came on and helped complete a 1-0 shutout.

Dusek went eight innings against Miami in a 3-0 victory and was named MVP of the Coral Gables Regional.

“We’ve bounced back before. There have been games where we haven’t hit, and people have started asking those questions like, ‘What’s going on?’ Allen said. “We have a good offense, and we have all the confidence in the world that we’re going to bounce back.”

parrish.alford@journalinc.com