DeLucia Don’t Skip Arkansas, Send Rebels To 1st CWS Finals

OMAHA, Nebraska (AP) — Dylan DeLucia was really good in Game 1 of the College World Series in Mississippi.

He was brilliant on Wednesday in the biggest game in the program’s 129-year history.

DeLucia scattered four hits in his first shutout for Ole Miss, Kevin Graham’s scoring double in the fourth was delayed, and the Rebels reached the CWS Finals for the first time with a 2-0 win over Arkansas on Thursday.

The Rebels (40-23), the last team selected to play in the NCAA Tournament, bounced back from a 3-2 loss to the Razorbacks on Wednesday night. They will face Oklahoma City in a best-of-three series starting on Saturday.

DeLucia (8-2) beat Connor Noland in an aces match for his second straight CWS start.

“Just a legendary performance,” said Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco.

DeLucia was even better than Auburn in the Rebels’ first game in Omaha last Saturday, showing better fastball control throughout the game and effectively moving the slider on both sides of the plate throughout the game.

“I don’t know if I’ve seen a better serve in a clutch game,” team captain Tim Elko said.

DeLucia eliminated Chris Lanzilli to end the 2-hour, 6-minute game. The young right-hander clenched his fist, threw down his glove and hugged catcher Hayden Dunhurst after recording the first individual shutout since Oregon State’s Kevin Abel beat Arkansas 5-0 in the 2018 national title game.

“It was an interesting, fun ride,” DeLucia said. “Coach B says enjoy the ride. This is what I did, taking every chance I got. This team has been playing so well the last couple of weeks and we are still rocking.”

The loss ended the Razorbacks’ seventh appearance on the CWS since 2004 under Dave Van Horn.

“After the game, I told them how proud I was of them,” he said. “I had a little speech problem, but I told them I wasn’t going to cry. I’m not going to cry when you finish your season in Omaha.”

DeLucia allowed four hits and one run with 10 strikeouts and no walkouts in the Rebels’ 5-1 victory over Auburn. Working over four rest days against the Razorbacks (46-21), he struck out seven and walked none for 113 fields.

In 16 2/3 CWS innings, he allowed one run, eight hits and zero passes and struck out 17.

Noland (8-6) was almost as good as DeLucia on Thursday, giving up seven hits and hitting seven in eight innings.

“I think both pitchers gave everything they had,” Van Horn said.

The Rebels broke a scoreless score in the fourth inning. Justin Bench passed second baseman Robert Moore to ground out and returned home as Graham doubled down the right field line.

Ole Miss’s other run came in seventh place when Calvin Harris hit right field after Tim Elko and Graham hit on base. Harris was out trying to turn his shot into a double and Noland was busted out of the half to keep the game with two runs.

DeLucia’s biggest problem came in seventh. He retired 18 of 19 batters before Moore, who got an extra chance when Dunhurst dropped a foul on what should have been a third hit, cut the slow roller down to a second for an infield hit. Jalen Battles then reached when shortstop Jacob Gonzalez played a grounder incorrectly.

Second baseman Peyton Shatanier led the Rebels out of the innings by going far to the left to pick up a Brady Slavens ground ball and ditched it first.

Bianco said he never had the desire to kill DeLucia and call Brandon Johnson closer.

“I thought there was no reason to do anything,” Bianco said. “He was too good. He didn’t look like he was taxing himself. He didn’t keep score. He was in complete control of the situation.”

It was the sixth meeting of the West Southeastern Conference rivals this season. Arkansas have won two of their three regular season home games. Ole Miss won two out of three in Omaha.

“A lot of people have a purpose to be here,” Bianco said. “One of the goals we talked about was just not to come here, but to win. It’s not like going to the bowl when years later people find out you went to the bowl and no one remembers whether you won or lost. You have to win and move on.”

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