Written By: Natalie Hansen

On Sunday June 28th, the Ole Miss Rebels claimed a Game 2 win over the Oklahoma Sooners, clinching their first ever National Baseball Title. The Rebels’ win marked the 8th SEC baseball champion since 2009 and the third straight season in which a champion from the SEC has been crowned. The win also continued a streak of college baseball success for the state of Mississippi, tacking onto the victory by Mississippi State last year. Competing all season long against the tough SEC conference, the Rebels ultimately came out on top. We can break down statistics from Ole Miss’ season and analyze their historic Game 2 in order to see just how they pulled off the title.

Looking Back on the Season

Early in the 2022 season, Ole Miss had high expectations, sitting #1 in D1 Baseball’s top 25 rankings. They started off the season with a 9 game win streak and won 13 of their first 16 non-conference games. The Rebels quickly started to slip down the rankings as they lost SEC games, getting swept by both Tennessee and Alabama and suffering losses to Auburn and Kentucky. By the beginning of May, the Rebels were sitting 7-14 in conference play. However, Ole Miss bounced back, sweeping both Missouri and LSU in their 3 game series, before securing one win against Texas A&M. Ole Miss went into the SEC tournament seeded #9, but lost in the first round to Vanderbilt on May 24th. After waiting a grueling 6 days of waiting, the Rebels received an at large bid to the 2022 NCAA tournament and headed to the Miami Regional.

Rebels Gaining Steam

Once in the tournament, the Rebels swept their regional with three wins. They beat Arizona 7-4, Miami 2-1, and closed out the Miami Regional slaughtering Arizona 22-6. The Rebels were able to overcome the odds, playing their entire post season on the road. Their win streak continued into their Super Regional, where they shut out in-state rival Southern Miss in two games. This win was big for the Rebels as they took on arguably one of the best pitching staffs this season. After the 2022 season, the Southern Miss pitching staff ranked 1st in FIP, 2nd in xFIP, 1st in SIERA, 1st in K%, 4th in BB%, and 7th in BAA. In the two Super Regional games against this Southern Miss pitching staff, the Rebels were able to outscore the Golden Eagles 15-0. The Rebels racked up 20 hits over two games including 5 doubles and a home run by TJ McCants. The table below compares advanced pitching statistics for Southern Miss and Ole Miss in 2022. By comparing the two teams, we can see just how dominant the Southern Miss pitching staff was this season, giving Ole Miss even more credit for their incredible Super Regional Series against the Golden Eagles. Their sweep against Southern Miss carried them onto the 2022 Men’s College World Series in Omaha.

Key Players

Over the course of the season, the Rebels had a few key players that filled out their offense and their pitching staff. Jacob Gonzalez, Tim Elko, and Justin Bench contributed greatly to Ole Miss’ offense while RHP Dylan DeLucia and LHP Hunter Elliott saw the most innings on the mound.


One of the dominant players for the Rebels in 2022 was Jacob Gonzalez, a sophomore hitter from Glendora, California. Over the course of the season, Gonzalez blasted 18 home runs with a .558 SLG%. The graphic below shows that although Gonzalez’s batting average was on par with the rest of Division 1 baseball, his OBP and SLG exceeded the averages for Ole Miss, the SEC, and Division 1 baseball as a whole for the 2022 season. Gonzalez posted 66 hits (3rd on team) and 52 RBI (2nd on team) in the 2022 season. Gonzalez’s plate approach allowed him to get walked 50 times this season.

Adding on to Gonzalez’s talent at the plate, Tim Elko, a senior hitter from Lutz, Florida, was a key component to Ole Miss’ offensive success. Over the course of the season, Elko hit 24 home runs, drove in 75, and scored 63 runs. In the graphic below, we can see that Elko hit more ground balls and line drives than the average D1 baseball player and far less infield fly balls and pop ups. His hit type demonstrates his ability to stay on the ball, which is reflected through his traditional hitting statistics.

We can see that Elko is above average for batting average, OBP, and SLG, hitting to a .300/.407/.642 slash. In particular, his slugging far exceeds team, league, and division averages, which is no surprise with his 10 doubles and 24 home runs. 43 walks also contributed to Elko’s ability to get on base this season.

Another key contributor to the Rebel offense this season was Justin Bench out of Redington Beach, Florida. While Bench had a lower SLG than Gonzalez and Elko this season, he posted one of the highest batting averages on the team at .316.

Bench was able to generate 62 runs, 81 hits, 17 doubles, 1 triple, and 4 home runs, giving him the highest OBP out of the Rebels’ everyday starters. Combined, Gonzalez, Elko and Bench generated 40% of Ole Miss’ runs during the 2022 season and led the offense.


Outside of the contributions from the offense, one of the ways that Ole Miss was able to finish off a successful season was through their effective and deep pitching staff. The table below shows advanced pitching statistics by team for the programs that qualified for the 2022 MCWS. The portions highlighted in orange signify that the team is better than average in that statistical category, as compared to the rest of the World Series qualifiers. We can see that Ole Miss was better than average in 7 out of 8 of these categories compared to their World Series counterparts. No other team out of this sample was better than average in more than 4 statistics.

Highlighted cells indicate above average values

In this chart, FIP stands for Fielding Independent Pitching. This statistic is on the same scale as ERA, but represents a more stable indicator since pitchers have little control over the result of balls in play. Comparing FIP for Ole Miss to other teams at the MCWS, we can see that they rank 4th and fall just below the sample average. Like FIP, Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP) also represents a more stable indicator than ERA, but it takes home run rate into account by normalizing HR/FB%. Ole Miss had the lowest xFIP out of all World Series teams this season. Another similar statistic is Skill-interactive Earned Run Average or SIERA. SIERA provides another measure of pitcher performance adjusted for fielding by considering balls that are put in play and adjusting accordingly. Unlike xFIP, SIERA won’t essentially penalize a pitcher for having a high groundball rate.

The second half of the pitching table focuses on more standard statistics like strikeout rate, walk rate, 1-1 Count Win %, and Batting Average Against. Ole Miss also posted the highest strikeout rate of all MCWS teams.

The table below shows the batting averages through 2-1 count and 1-2 count for D1 Baseball’s 2022 season.

As we can see, the BA through 2-1 is .364, which is significantly higher than .170 through 1-2. This difference emphasizes how important the 1-1 W% metric is. Pitchers pass through 1-1 count to either 1-2 or 2-1 counts, so their ability to win in at 1-1 is crucial to lower their batting average against. Ole Miss was able to win 61.1% of all 1-1 counts this season, helping contribute to their .236 team BAA.

In addition to analyzing these pitching statistics at the team level, we can also examine how specific pitchers measured up against other pitchers at the MCWS. In the table below we can see the Top 10 pitchers at the 2022 MCWS in terms of strikeout rate. Ole Miss lands three pitchers in the Top 10: Brandon Johnson, Josh Mallitz, and Mason Nichols with 39.4%, 38.7% and 31.1% strikeout rates, respectively. No other MCWS qualifier had more than two pitchers in the Top 10. The back end of the Rebel’s bullpen was tough to deal with all season.

Ole Miss also landed three players in the Top 10 for SIERA: Brandon Johnson, Josh Mallitz, and Jack Dougherty, all posting sub-3.00 SIERAs at 1.88, 1.91, and 2.57, respectively. Again, for this category, Ole Miss is the only program to land three pitchers in the Top 10.

Considering how Ole Miss’ pitching staff stacked up against the other teams at the MCWS, it should be no surprise that they also found spots in the Top 10 rankings nationally for both SIERA and Strikeout Rate as a team, as shown below. They also ranked 15th nationally for their team BAA of .236. These statistics represent just how effective their pitching staff was as a whole for the 2022 season.

During their 2022 MCWS run, Ole Miss threw four different starting pitchers: Dylan DeLucia, Hunter Elliott, John Gaddis, and Jack Dougherty. DeLucia and Elliott tossed the most innings, 16.2 and 13 respectively. In Game 3 vs. Arkansas, Dylan DeLucia pulled off an incredible 9 inning outing where he struck out 7 and only allowed only 4 hits, clinching the shutout and sending the Rebels to the Championship Series vs. Oklahoma.

In pursuit of the championship title, Ole Miss relied on 8 total pitchers throughout the MCWS. Between their effective starters and their electric relievers, the Ole Miss pitching staff came to show out, holding opponents to just 14 runs over 6 games and outscoring their opponents 36-14.

Facing off with Oklahoma

Game 1

The Ole Miss Rebels did not let up once they made it to the championship series to face off the Oklahoma Sooners. In Game 1 vs. OU, the Rebels racked up 4 home runs, including back-to-back-to back home runs by TJ McCants, Calvin Harris, and Justin Bench. Based on home run rates in D1 baseball this season, the odds of back-to-back-to-back home runs were roughly 1 in 120,700.

The Rebel offense generated 16 hits and 10 runs to give them the Game 1 victory 10-3 over the Sooners.

Game 2

Game 2 of the championship series, which went on to make Ole Miss history, largely started out as a pitchers duel with starting pitchers Cade Horton (Oklahoma) and Hunter Elliott (Ole Miss). These two pitchers were able to shut down the opposing team’s offense through 5 scoreless innings. We can analyze how the win probability for this game shifted throughout the final half, ultimately ending in a Rebel victory.

In the 5th inning, 2nd baseman Peyton Chatagnier made an amazing play in shallow right field to hold the Sooners off of the bases and keep the game scoreless through 5 innings.

We can see how the 643 win probability model favored the home team Ole Miss going into this game, and the Rebels were able to keep the model in their favor throughout the first 5 innings through their defensive efforts.

While the Rebels were unable to score through the first 5 innings, we can leverage historical data to understand when exactly their offense typically got hot. In the table below we can see the Rebels team batting average, on-base percentage, slugging, on-base plus slugging and the number of plate appearances according to the number of times that they have gone through the order during a game. We can see that the peak numbers for these categories are during the Rebels’ 3rd time through the order.

In the bottom of the 6th, the 3rd time through the Rebels’ order, Jacob Gonzalez blasted a home run over the right centerfield fence to put Ole Miss up 1-0 in the 6th.

We can see how this home run increased win probability for the Rebels going into the 7th inning.

Oklahoma was quick to answer back in the 7th, claiming a 2-1 lead and forcing several Ole Miss pitching changes.

In the visual below we can see how these events in the 7th swung the win probability model in Oklahoma’s favor.


The bats on both sides stayed quiet until the bottom of the 8th when TJ McCants started a Rebel rally with his single up the middle. Justin Bench followed suit with his single to right field, advancing McCants to third base. This is what started the win probability shift back to favor the Rebels for good.

Gonzalez then came in clutch in the 8th when he singled to right field, scoring McCants and tying the game back up 2-2.

With a wild pitch to Elko, Bench was able to slide into home, giving the Rebels the lead once again 3-2.

Elko grounded out, advancing Gonzalez to third, and Gonzalez was able to score on yet again another wild pitch, making the score 4-2 Ole Miss.

All that was standing between Ole Miss and their first ever National Championship in baseball was three outs. Closer Brandon Johnson entered the game for the Rebels, and he did what he’d been doing all season – he sat the Sooners down with three strikeouts. Ole Miss had claimed their first ever National Championship.

A Champion is Crowned

Ole Miss showed the baseball world just how important it is to play fundamental baseball. The tables below show Defensive Efficiency (the percentage of balls in play that are converted to outs) for the MCWS teams prior to the World Series and then after the tournament. The table on the right side highlights teams in green that were able to increase their defensive efficiency over the tournament while teams that could not are highlighted in orange. Ole Miss was was able to increase their efficiency from .611 to .622 over 6 the six games in Omaha.

The Rebels’ improvement on defense, stellar pitching, and clutch hitting performances led to their success. They were able to finish out the year winning 10 of 11 post season games, all while on the road. While the Rebels suffered tough SEC losses mid-year, their talent heated up in the post season and showed just how well they could play. From one of the last teams into the NCAA Tournament to the last team standing, the Rebels picked the best time to play their best baseball of the season.