By Parrish Alford
OMAHA, Neb. – Prior to their practice at T.D. Ameritrade Park on Friday, several Ole Miss players had their bats taken from them by the NCAA.
It was part of a routine inspection for dents or other deficiencies. Sikes Orvis and Will Allen, the Rebels’ top two home run hitters, were affected.
“Apparently they do some test with a ring, and if the ring goes down without catching anything it’s good. A bunch of ours didn’t make it through. I had to get a new one,” Orvis said. “Our bats aren’t juiced I don’t think. I wish they were but they’re not. It might help in this big park.”
Orvis said the bat he lost is relatively new, one he switched to before the SEC tournament.
Orvis, in a joking manner, said Allen was more upset at the loss of his bat.
Game 4 pitchers
The Game 4 College World Series starting pitchers – Chris Ellis for Ole Miss and Nathan Kirby for Virginia – have a lot in common.
Both have been dominant pitchers for their teams, but both are coming off losses in super regional openers.
A left-hander Kirby is 9.2 with a 1.73 earned run average. In 104 innings this season Kirby has walked 25 batters and struck out 104. Opponents are hitting just .182 against him.
Maryland, though, had success against Kirby in Game 1 of their super in Charlottesville, chasing him after 4 2-3 innings. He gave up seven hits and five runs, all earned.
A right-hander, Ellis (10-2, 2.45) lasted just 21⁄3 innings against UL-Lafayette, giving up five runs, four earned on a hit, three walks and a hit-batter.
Ellis was Bianco’s Friday night starter throughout the regular season. He started Game 1 of the SEC tournament and the Oxford Regional.
Bianco did not name him his Game 1 CWS starter earlier this week because Ellis had gotten warm for a possible relief appearance against ULL in Game 3.
“At the time all you guys wanted to know, we hadn’t looked at anything from Virginia. So, at the end of the day, he’s been our ace all year. I thought it didn’t make sense to rearrange the rotation,” Bianco said.
Once Ellis checked out physically Bianco knew he’d give him the ball against the Cavaliers.
“From that point forward we knew we’d go with Chris,” he said.
Enjoy the moment
Earlier in the week Bianco pointed out how long it’s been for him between trips to coach in the CWS – 17 years – and said he called friends in the business and asked him about Omaha, the routine, structure, etc.
The coaches he called were TCU’s Jim Schlossnagle – who he could possibly face in a second-round game – and Louisville’s Dan McDonnell, who coached under Bianco at Ole Miss and has the Cardinals on the other side of the bracket.
Schlossnagle says it’s important for players to find balance in enjoying the spectacle and focusing on their play.
“Some people try to make the guys completely lock in on baseball, which is why we’re here, but at the same time I think we’re foolish to think they’re not going to want to enjoy the other days,” Schlossnagle said. “I challenged my team to have a split personality.
“On days when there is an opportunity other than your practice time to be a fan, you really need to be enjoy being a fan. When there are days for baseball, you need to be locked into baseball. I think it’s possible to do that.”