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CWS: Notre Dame's Link Jarrett plotted early Irish coaching path with Mainieri's help

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OMAHA, Neb. — So Ole Miss scored in the top of the first inning of its Men's College World Series game against Auburn Saturday night.

The 2022 Men's College World Series continues Sunday in Omaha at Charles Schwab Field with two games.

Here is the updated schedule, TV networks and livestream links for the games on Sunday and Monday (click or tap on each to be taken to live scoring):

Just like Oklahoma. And Notre Dame. And Arkansas.

Once in front, the Rebels would never be passed. There would be no lead change.

Just like Oklahoma. And Notre Dame. And Arkansas.

Ole Miss was unseeded for the NCAA tournament, but defeated a seeded opponent anyway,

Just like Oklahoma. And Notre Dame. And Arkansas.

We might have spotted a trend here. All eight teams have stood in the bright lights now in Omaha, and there has been little routine about this Men’s College World Series.

OMAHA, Neb. — On a July day in 2019, Link Jarrett settled in at a Starbucks near his home in Greensboro, North Carolina and for 45 minutes, just listened.

Plenty of people wanted to get with Jarrett in the days after he earned his chance to be the head coach at Notre Dame. There were family members and friends and well-wishers and seemingly an endless array of people whose paths had crossed somewhere along the line with Jarrett, a college playing/coaching lifer.

There was one call that Jarrett absolutely had to take. Not because of the congratulatory comments coming from the other end. Rather, the words of wisdom from someone who had previously sat in the chair where Jarrett soon would sit.

That’s why Jarrett was in that Starbucks that day fielding a call from former Irish head coach Paul Mainieri.

“When I got the job, he called me,” Jarrett remembered last week before his team left to play in the College World Series for the first time since Mainieri guided the Irish there in 2002. “Before I ever got here, Paul was like I’m going to tell you some of the things that I think you need to know as you enter Notre Dame.”

Things like how best to approach non-conference scheduling, and travel. And some of the obstacles in terms of recruiting and weather and winter workouts. Jarrett jotted down some notes on some topics, listened but decided to do it his own way on others. But every single word Mainieri said about Notre Dame had Jarrett’s absolute attention.

“His continued advice as to how to navigate some of the things that make Notre Dame very special but very unique, he guided me,” Jarrett said.

Mainieri was in the Charles Schwab Field stands — up there in a second-level suite — for Friday’s opening-game win over Texas. The head coach left Notre Dame in 2006 after 12 seasons and 533 wins, but the Mainieri name remains a part of the program. His son, Nick, a 2006 Notre Dame graduate, is the baseball program’s academic advisor.

Those early talks with the elder Mainieri gave way to talks with the younger Mainieri, who often served (and still does in ways) as a sounding board for Jarrett when it comes to scheduling travel and practices and study halls and days to condition.

“Those guys,” Jarrett said, “got me off the ground here.”

Texas A&M, Texas, Stanford, Auburn — all seeded in the top 16 for the tournament — were thrashed by a combined score of 42-14. They never led. Not one inning. No. 2 Stanford is the highest seed in town and lost by 15 runs. Auburn, the team that scored 51 times in three regional games, managed one run and four hits against the Ole Miss staff that has turned into a pack of Justin Verlanders. Texas, a program with six national championships, was stifled by Notre Dame, a program with four World Series wins. Texas A&M is now 0-5 in this place.

The 21st century has never seen such a thing. This is the first time since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1999 that not a single seeded team was 1-0 after the first round. Also the first time in 23 years all the first four games were settled by at least four runs.

Strange forces seem at work in Omaha. In that case, we might as well start with Ole Miss, maybe the strangest tale of them all.

The team that was once 7-14 in the SEC . . . the bubble bunch that was the last name called out for the NCAA tournament . . . suddenly can’t be stopped. Or even scored on much.

“We stuck together and just believed that it was going to turn around for us. And when it finally turned around, we just took it and ran with it,” pitcher Dylan DeLucia was saying Saturday night after he struck out 10 Auburn batters and gave up four hits and one run in 7.2 innings.

This is where running with it has taken them:

The Rebels are 6-0 in the postseason by a combined score of 51-12, including 20-1 from the super regional on.

Their pitchers have allowed one run in the past 29 innings. The bullpen hasn’t given up an earned run since May 21, nearly a month ago. In the past three games, the Ole Miss staff has struck out 34 and walked three. The secret? “I guess the answer,” coach Mike Bianco said, “is a lot of strikes.”

Ole Miss hasn’t trailed in 39 innings, going back to the regional. It must seem like light years since the Rebels sat waiting to hear if their name would be called. Now Ole Miss has turned into a tsunami.

“We knew we were good enough to make it. Yeah, our record didn’t say that,” DeLucia said of the shaky days.

“I think part of it is where they’ve come from,” Bianco said. “We were in a tough spot. Once we got in, I think the slate’s clean. What I mean by that is they were fighting uphill and trying to stay alive in the deep end for such a long time, that once they got in, now everybody’s even. And everybody’s 0-0, and they’ve got another opportunity.

“It’s not super surprising because we played so well at the beginning of the year. This wasn’t a team that came out of nowhere. This was a team that was ranked No. 1 at some point . . . and a team that kind of lost itself and were able to come back. I think once they got that new life in them, you can see the confidence in the way they’ve played.”

The Rebels, then, might be the poster team of the unpredictability of these proceedings. A 1-0 start is a fine way to win this tournament. Thirty-six of the past 40 national champions did it. Just look who is now 1-0.


[LIVE-STREAM#4K] College World Series 2022 LIVE Free 20 June 2022

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