OXFORD, MS — "I don’t even remember if we’re being completely honest. I was in the bullpen. It was kind of a blur," pitcher Josh Mallitz said.
Tampa-native and Ole Miss sophomore pitcher Josh Mallitz doesn't remember much, but he remembers the team trying to stay calm when they were moments away from winning a baseball national title for the first time in school history.
"I looked at our pitching coach, [Coach Carl Lafferty], he goes 'Get back to your spot! We can’t act like we’re winning already,'" Mallitz recalled.
Ole Miss beat Oklahoma 4-2 in game two of the best-of-three College World Series championship. and the party was on.
"I remember sprinting from the bullpen," Mallitz said. "Getting in the dog pile, everyone screaming, celebrating, giving each other big hugs. It felt really good."
It wasn't a season full of hugs for the Rebels. At one point this season, Ole Miss was 7-14 in SEC play. They finished 14-16 in conference, and lost in the first round of the SEC tournament.
"A lot of guys… weren’t having doubts, necessarily, but weren’t sure if we were going to make the postseason," Mallitz reflected. "We all came together one day and said 'If we make the postseason, we’re going to make a run for it.' Our name got called, and low and behold we won. Man, it’s a good feeling."
Ole Miss was one of the last four teams to make the NCAA tournament field of 64, but they made the most of their last chance.
"Our hitters started to hit. Our pitchers started to pitch. It was all gelling together," Josh added. "That’s something that wasn’t really happening in the middle of the season. So once it all came together, a lot of the guys got confidence, and that’s what made us go."
Mallitz said the atmosphere in Omaha is unlike any other, to the point where you forget which stadium you're playing in.
"It sounded like a football game. Like a Saturday night football game," he joked. "Everyone was screaming. The chants were going. Everyone was into it, and that really helped us go as well."
Mallitz won a Florida high school state championship with Jesuit in 2019. The Tigers' program is considered one of the best in the country. Mallitz said playing on that stage is what prepared him to succeed at the Division I level.
"You know what it feels like to have a winning mentality. Getting to college and being with a bunch of winners and a bunch of really good guys, it helps tremendously."
Mallitz finished the season with a 1.45 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 31 innings pitched.