Game 1 of the College World Series final was tight through seven innings.
But Ole Miss rode hot bats in the eighth to ensure that it would leave Saturday with a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three championship series. TJ McCants, Calvin Harris and Justin Bench hit back-to-back-to-back home runs to blow the game open en route to a 10-3 win.
McCants got the hit party started with a man on second and two outs as Ole Miss held a 4-2 lead. He lifted an 83 mph Chazz Martinez breaking ball over the right field wall and into a celebratory Ole Miss bullpen to extend the lead to 6-2.
Two pitches later, Martinez had Harris in an 0-1 hole. He’d like to have his second pitch back. Harris launched the 92 mph fastball 430 feet and deep into the right centerfield stands to extend the lead to 7-2.
Martinez remained in the game. Three pitches later, Bench sent his 85 mph 1-1 breaking ball 379 feet and over the left centerfield wall to the delight of a raucous Ole Miss crowd that made the trek to Omaha.
The back-to-back-to-back jacks marked the first time since 1998 that a College World Series team recorded home runs via three consecutive batters and extended Mississippi’s lead to 8-2.
Oklahoma would add another run before the game was over, but the damage was done as Ole Miss cruised to the 10-3 win. Seven different Ole Miss batters recorded RBI as McCants and Bench notched two each.
From first to worst … to champions?
Early in the regular season, Mississippi was ranked No. 1 in the country. It finished last in the SEC West with a 14-16 conference record. It entered NCAA tournament play unranked and unseeded in the 64-team bracket.
But it advanced undefeated out of the Miami regional as the No. 3 seed out of four teams. It then swept No. 11 seed Southern Miss in Super Regionals. It then advanced to the CWS final with a win over No. 14 seed Auburn and and a best-of-three series win over Arkansas. Now it stands one win away from a national championship.