OMAHA — With staff ace Dylan Delucia having been used to win the bracket final game against Arkansas, Mississippi coach Mike Bianco had a decision to make on the mound for game one of the College World Series finals against Oklahoma.
One option was freshman lefthander Hunter Elliott, who along with DeLucia had a huge hand in turning Ole Miss’ season around and getting the team to the College World Series.
But that option wasn’t necessarily ideal, because Elliott pitched just five days ago against the Razorbacks and threw 100 pitches. And if Ole Miss felt like it was imperative that it win whatever game Elliott started anyway, it makes sense to push him back to give him the most rest possible.
Bianco instead made the choice to hand the ball to righthander Jack Dougherty.
“They’re a very patient team. They walk a lot. And felt that we needed somebody that was going to fill up the strike zone,” Bianco said. “Of the guys that were available, I thought he was the best guy to do that.”
It’s been an up-and-down season for Dougherty, who auditioned for the rotation earlier this season and made three starts before sliding back to the bullpen, but he came into Saturday’s game pitching extremely well.
Going back to his May 6th appearance against Missouri, he’d stacked up five straight scoreless outings, totaling 12 innings. That brought his ERA down to 5.08 from a peak of 7.33 after he gave up three runs in 2.1 innings of relief against Arkansas on April 30.
“Coach B grabbed me before the game and said ‘just be you. Go out, attack with your fastball, get ahead in counts, and just pitch like you pitch, and you’ll be successful,’” Dougherty said.
Bianco was right about that, as Dougherty continued his run of good form Saturday in a 10-3 win over the Sooners to push the Rebels one win away from its first national title.
His stat line says that he threw five innings, giving up three hits and two runs with one walk and six strikeouts, but that really…