The day that Ole Miss baseball has been waiting over four decades to arrive is finally here. For the first time since 1972, the Rebels will be playing in the College World Series on Sunday.
That may be the stuff of fantasy, but the Rebels' opponents, the formidable Virginia Cavaliers, are anything but a dream matchup. One of only two national seeds remaining (the other, TCU, is of course on Ole Miss's side of the bracket as well), the Cavs are being lauded as the most complete team in Omaha and are the Vegas favorites to take the title.
Ole Miss will have to get through one of the better pitchers in the country in Nathan Kirby. He carries a 1.73 ERA and a 9-2 record and demolished the last SEC team he faced, hurling eight shutout innings in a win over Arkansas in the regional round. The good news is that he's coming off his worst game of the season. He was lit up for five runs in less than five innings in a super regional loss to Maryland.
Of course, Rebel ace Chris Ellis is coming off his own nightmare start. Ellis imploded in the first game of the Lafayette super, giving up five runs during a third-inning meltdown in which he walked the first three batters. Ellis has shown control issues all season, so it's imperative he settle back down and control his pitch count. Ole Miss could be forced to play up to five games over the next week, so conserving bullpen arms is a priority. The Rebs need a long, quality start from their ace.
Here's the tune-in info for Sunday night's game, followed by the details for the early game, Texas Tech vs. TCU.
(3) Virginia vs. Ole Miss
Texas Tech vs. (7) TCU
Time: 2 p.m. CT
Online streaming: WatchESPN
Why you should care: Win or lose, Ole Miss will be playing one of these two clubs on Tuesday. Given recent history, TCU would be an intriguing matchup for the Rebels. The two teams have played eight times since 2012, with Ole Miss holding a 5-3 advantage. The last time they saw each other in postseason play, though, the Horned Frogs ended the Rebels' 2012 season with consecutive wins to take the College Station regional.