Coming from Les Penn’s perspective! Les and Sanford drove through the night to get to Game One…
OLE MISS, National Champions!
At 3pm on Thursday, June 23rd, Ole Miss played Arkansas for a spot in the College World Series Finals vs Oklahoma. 2 hours and 6 minutes later, Dylan DeLucia had thrown an absolute gem, a complete game shutout and Ole Miss was heading to the National Championship series!
By 6pm Thursday evening, Sanford and I were in the middle of making plans, plotting our travel, and preparing to travel to America’s Heartland. Sanford Moore is a great friend of mine from Jackson, Ms. Even though separated by years of wisdom, we share the same love for Ole Miss Athletics. I finished Ole Miss in 2009, and Sanford started in 2010. It goes without saying, we’ve both been through some heartbreak with our Rebs.
There is no short route from the Jackson metro to the Midwest. Sanford picked me up, and we left my house in Canton, at 9:15 pm, next stop, Omaha, Ne. 12 hours and 39 minutes away, 820 miles. We were on the way… to the as close to perfect trip we could imagine! Around Jonesboro, Arkansas we made our first gas/coffee stop. Not too long after that, was the start of Sanford telling me “alright go to sleep, get some rest, you have to drive soon.” I finally decided to listen and got a solid 45 min nap in not long after we crossed into Missouri.
We swapped, and I started driving about an hour outside of Springfield, Mo., by the time Sanford woke up, Springfield was barely in our rearview and that would be the total sleep either of us would get until after game 1 later that night!
Night turned to morning, and we needed to stop, stretch our legs and get some food. Welcome to Clinton, Missouri. Sanford did a quick google search and we went off the beaten path to a little restaurant called Chel’s: Bakery, Espresso, and Café. To enter Chel’s you walk in the Rent-To-Own appliance store and take a right. By 7:05 we had both enjoyed our Skillets (that weren’t in skillets) and met the happiest people in Missouri. Next stop, Plattsmouth, Nebraska!
We pulled in to Carson’s lake house at 11:02 am, we made it! Freshened up, had Ice Hole Butterscotch “schnapps from up north” for the first time and then Carson, Drew, Sanford, and I jumped in the taxi for a quick ride in to Omaha. First stop, Addy’s Sports Bar (this will be a reoccurring place for the rest of this story!) We weren’t even inside Addy’s yet, and I see Steve Martens who lives 4-5 houses down from, and was in Sanford’s Aunt and Uncles wedding (which was not known to either of us at the time.) Small world!
By 4pm we decided to head closer to the stadium and stopped by Rocco’s (because why not, we had to donate to the shot board!) And then ended up upstairs at Blatt’s until it would be time to go to the game. Note: All the restaurants/bars were shoulder to shoulder Ole Miss fans, as was the stadium. For the 24,000+ fans at the stadium each day, if Oklahoma has 1,000 total in Omaha, I’d be shocked!
GAME 1: WILD
6pm, and most likely the loudest HOTTY TODDY to start a game I’ve heard! We set in right field for game 1 and the best way I could describe it would be sitting in the student section of an SEC football game. Jumping on the Sooners early, the Rebs jumped out to a 4-0 lead. Okla did threaten a little and cut the score to 4-2 but then… well then craziness happened. First McCants, then Harris, then Bench… BACK 2 BACK 2 BACK HOMERUNS! The McCants HR obviously had the place going, then Harris hits an absolute rocket, I believe 430 ft… BOMB! And I’ll be completely honest, I was still celebrating the Harris HR when Bench decided to hit one to, it was all a fog. Pure awesomeness. It was wild.
Rebs win 10-3, one game away from the National Championship!
Sunday morning, we left Carson’s lake house in Plattsmouth and went to their main street area for breakfast. We went to, and I HIGHLY RECOMMEND… Mom’s Café. As Midwest as it gets, simply perfection… now back to downtown Omaha, pre-game!
Game 2: We are the Champions!
With a very kind gesture of my Uncle Tom, Sanford and I were able to upgrade tremendously for our game 2 seats. In club seats on the 3rd base side, we watched as Oklahomas ace, Cade Horton, retire rebel after rebel batter. We may as well do two things in this run to the national championship. 1, refer to game 3 against Arkansas as the DeLucia game. And 2, refer to game 2 of the finals as the Gonzo game! In the bottom of the 6th Gonzo started the scoring, hitting a solo shot to give the Rebs a 1-0 lead. The next inning, the Sooners would take a 2-1 lead. In the bottom of the 8th, Gonzo tied up the game by singling to right field to score McCants. Gonzo & Bench would both go on to score on wild pitches to give the Rebs the 4-2 lead to end it! The top of the 9th was fast… like really, really quick! Brandon Johnson was as dominant as he had ever been and Okla had no chance.
It was wild, it’s honestly still wild! The Ole Miss Rebels won the National Championship! I wasn’t in Oxford in 2014 when the Rebs beat Bama, but was told by many, they’d never seen grown men cry about sports. I was there for this, and I know what they mean now. After the celebration in our seats with friends we ended up sitting by, we went down closer to field to see others. **Side not: Sanford was at the 2014 Bama game as a student & seen carrying the goal-post out of the stadium on ESPN.
Of course the party was only getting started, we eventually ended up back at Addy’s Sports Bar with Bill & Cossar Morgan for many celebratory drinks, the worlds best chicken wings and the spiciest mix-up on the wing menu! We ended the night at Moe & Curly’s where luckily there was a 2 hour wait on the karaoke list and that didn’t happen.
The next morning, at Sanford’s demand we were up and on the road by 6am, heading for central Ms. I can’t tell you much about the ride through Kansas City, and he can’t tell you much about the ride through Jonesboro. We both decided on the way back it really wasn’t that hard to sleep in the car. (And finding a neck pillow in the back seat!)
*Shoutout to the real MVP’s, our wives, Murray Ann and Hannah. Sanford and I neither one could have just up and left at 9pm Friday night and been gone all weekend without y’all doing all that you did/do!
*Thank you to Mrs Finney for letting us take your car! *Thank you to Carson for the place to stay!
TO THE MIDWEST! Hotty Toddy! Random photos!