With a 4-2 win over Georgia Tech, Washington advances to Monday's Oxford Regional Championship game against Ole Miss (2 p.m.). It was the Huskies' second game of the day Sunday, having lost to the Rebels 2-1 earlier in the day, and they will need to beat Ole Miss twice Monday.
"It's been a long day obviously," head coach Lindsay Meggs said. "It's not the way we hoped it would go. But as I told our guys after the game, the Georgia Tech win was not the prettiest thing in the world. But at this point in time, it's about finding a way to win and getting a chance to play the next day.
"We're tired. We're a little disappointed that we weren't able to win the first game, but we do get to play tomorrow. A little bit of sleep, a little bit of rest, a little bit of energy, when we wake up in the morning, be ready to get back here and find a way to put some runs on the board early and try to put some pressure on them."
In the first meeting, Ole Miss got big-time pitching performances from Christian Trent and Aaron Greenwood. The duo combined to strand seven Washington runners on base, including two each in the 7th and 8th.
"We were an at-bat or two away from being locked up in a 2-2 tie," Meggs said. "This is not an easy environment to come in and execute in... We didn't get that hit. Minus a good at-bat or two with runners in scoring position, we were right there."
"We were right there," said Andrew Ely, who hit a two-run home run to tie the game with Georgia Tech at 2-2 in the third inning. "If we can play defense like we have all year and pitch like we have all year and get that one knock that we didn't get earlier today, we can beat these guys."
Sam Smith will get the start for Ole Miss in Monday's rematch, and the Rebels have used just Greenwood (2.2 IP, 47 pitches) out of the bullpen. Meggs did not announce a starter for Washington, and the Huskies have used each of its three regular starters and Will Ballowe (1.0 IP, 9 pitches), Brandon Choate (0.2 IP, 8 pitches) and Trevor Dunlap (4.0 IP, 50 pitches) out of the bullpen.
"We're going to talk about that back at the hotel and piece it together by the morning," Meggs said. "The key is to try to get a few innings out of whoever starts and try to get us to the fourth, and if we can score some run, we can mix and match a little bit. If we can get to that second game, which is going to be tough for us, anything can happen. You will see everybody at some point in time. We will run them all out there."
As evidenced by the first meeting Sunday, with nearly 10,000 in attendance, the Huskies won't be fazed by the stage or the environment Monday.
"Last year, we traveled down to LSU," Ely said. "That experience has given us experience for something like this. This is not the first time that a lot of our guys have played in front of over 10,000 guys screaming at you. That helps a bit. It's an awesome atmosphere."
As he has so often this season, senior right-hander Aaron Greenwood rose to the occasion and made big pitches in big spots, working the final 2.2 innings to close out a 2-1 win over Washington in the winners' bracket at the NCAA Oxford Regional.
Sophomore left-hander Christian Trent tossed a gem in his own right, having not pitched in 16 days after he was scratched from his start in the SEC Tournament last week. He left with a 2-1 lead in the seventh before turning things over to Greenwood. With the win, Trent improved to 9-0, giving up just one run on five hits with a walk and six strikeouts in 6.1 innings.
"It was definitely nice having the rest," Trent said. "I was definitely ready to get out there after being off for a start and plus my last start was seven days before that. It felt really good to get back out there and help my team win."
Greenwood inherited runners at second and third with one out after Washington cut the lead to 2-1 on an RBI single from junior outfielder Robert Pehl.
"When we got to the point with the guy at third, Aaron's done that so much in his career," head coach Mike Bianco said. "Not just this year, but so much, coming in with a guy at third base and getting the big strikeout. Although statistically he may look like a strikeout guy, he's a command guy. And he can raise his game. He gets that adrenaline and the fastball gets harder and the slider gets harder and sharper, and that's what we needed."
He struck out the first batter and got a lineout to second base for the third out, stranding the runners at second and third to preserve a 2-1 lead.
"On the mound visit, Coach B told us we really needed a strikeout to hold the guy at third base and not let them put the ball in play to give them a chance to score," Greenwood said. "I was thinking, 'Nothing good to hit. Low in the zone. Get ahead early.' I threw a slider away to strike him out. The next guy, when you get two, you're thinking the same thing: keep pounding the zone. Finally I got the line out to Preston (Overbey), and Preston made a great play."
Washington mounted a two-out rally in the eighth with a walk, followed by a bloop single to shallow center field before Greenwood shut the door again on the Huskies with an inning-ending strikeout.
Greenwood closed things out with a perfect ninth, including a pair of strikeouts, for his fourth save of the season. The Byhalia, Mississippi, native allowed just one hit and one walk in 2.2 scoreless innings.
"The crowd was terrific today, even in a pitchers' duel," Bianco said. "They really sense that and sense every play and pulled Aaron through."
"I had to calm myself down at times, especially playing in front of these great fans, 10,000 people," Greenwood said. "They're awesome. They were unbelievable today. It's amazing, especially being a hometown guy to go out there and play for the team I always grew up loving. It was awesome."
Through two games in regional play, Ole Miss has used just three pitchers, ahead of the regional championship game against the Washington-Georgia Tech winner at 2 p.m. on Monday and a potential if necessary game at 7 p.m. on Monday. Junior right-hander Sam Smith is expected to get the start for the Rebels.
"We have the pitching depth, but the disappointing thing is, if you don't win this game, you are looking at 27 more innings to get through without extra innings just to win it," Bianco said. "It's nice that you can stay in line with a normal weekend. It's all about winning the next game, and the players know that."
Behind a three-run, two-out rally in the ninth, Georgia Tech defeated Jacksonville State by a score of 4-2 in an elimination game at the NCAA Oxford Regional. Georgia Tech will play in another elimination game later Sunday at 7 p.m. against the loser of Ole Miss-Washington.
With runners at the corners and two outs in the eighth, Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall turned to senior right-hander Dusty Isaacs out of the bullpen. He struck out Ryan Sebra to send the game to the ninth with the game tied 1-1.
In the ninth, Georgia Tech had runners at the corners with two outs after back-to-back singles from junior outfielder Daniel Spingola and senior second baseman Mott Hyde. Sophomore outfielder Matt Gonzalez delivered with a two-RBI double to right-center, and junior first baseman Thomas Smith added an insurance run with an RBI single.
Jacksonville State threatened in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases with nobody out. Isaacs got a fielder's choice groundout, followed by a foul out and fly out to limit the damage to one run and close out the 4-2 win.
Junior right-hander Matthew Grimes is expected to get the start in the late game for the Yellow Jackets. In the win over Jacksonville State, Georgia Tech used two of its top relievers, Isaacs (1.1 IP, 24 pitches) and sophomore left-hander Sam Clay (2.2 IP, 43 pitches).
"We were seeing how the game went," Hall said. "In an ideal world, we didn't want to pitch either one, but that didn't work out. I'm kind of glad we didn't totally extend Sam. Dusty, I would have liked to see him have about a three-pitch or four-pitch ninth inning. Dusty will be fine in the second game, but I'm not sure about Sam. Sam should be fine for tomorrow if we get there. We will have to beat a very good team to get there."
Georgia Tech is now 4-1 in its last five NCAA Regional elimination games and has advanced to the regional championship game in six straight years.
Freshman shortstop Errol Robinson made a great play moving to his right to start a 6-4-3 double play to help junior right-hander Chris Ellis get out of the first, limiting the damage to one run.
Ole Miss answered with five runs in the bottom of the inning and that's all Ellis needed, as he tossed his second career complete game and the Rebels defeated Jacksonville State by a score of 12-2 in the second game of the NCAA Oxford Regional.
"I'm really proud of the way we came out," head coach Mike Bianco said. "One of the goals was to be locked into this moment and play this game. Chris was terrific. The complete game was something we needed with the shortened regional to save the bullpen. He gave us that today."
The Rebels plated all five runs in the first inning with two outs, as they went on score nine of their 12 runs with two outs. The two-out rally started with a 2-RBI double down the right-field line from junior first baseman Sikes Orvis. The first team All-SEC selection had a career day, going 3-for-4 with two runs, five RBI, a double and a home run.
"After the first inning, I was kind of disappointed that I gave up a run," Ellis said. "There's nothing bigger than when you go out there and give up a run in the early innings, and the offense puts up five runs right after that. There's really no better feeling than having guys like Sikes (Orvis) ripping an RBI double down the line."
After the first, Ellis faced three batters over the minimum through the seventh, while the offense extended the lead to 12-2 with two runs in the fourth, two in the sixth and three in the seventh. He gave up a run in the eighth but came back and worked a scoreless ninth to close out the win.
Ellis was efficient, throwing just 112 pitches, as he scattered eight hits with three walks and a career-high eight strikeouts.
"When you see 10,000 people out there and beer showers going everywhere, it's a little bit different than regular SEC weekends," Ellis said. "I was fired up. The defense helped me out like usual. The offense every time I have given up a run this season, they have gone and put up four or five runs right after that."
"It was his best fast ball-curve ball combination he's had in quite some time," Bianco said. "He showed good command with the fast ball. I'm proud of him. Once we started to roll there and got a lead, you knew that you would like your guy to finish if he can, that way you save the bullpen."
With the win, Ole Miss advances to the winners' bracket game against Washington, which is set for 3 p.m. on Sunday. The Huskies defeated Georgia Tech by a score of 8-0 in game one of the NCAA Oxford Regional.
After the game, Bianco announced that sophomore left-hander Christian Trent (8-0, 2.44 ERA) would get the start for Ole Miss, while Washington is expected to counter with junior right-hander Jeff Brigham (7-3, 2.93 ERA).
"They're very good," said Bianco of Washington. "From all the information that we gathered and the stuff that we looked at all week, it's probably what we expected. It's a team that's certainly very well-coached and puts a lot of pressure on you. We will do some different things offensively. Their guy today, (Tyler) Davis, was tremendous and made it look really easy out there. You can see why they came in second in one of the best baseball conferences in the country."
More on Washington: Davis Is Divine: UW's 1st NCAA Tourney Shutout, writes Gregg Bell, UW Athletic Director of Writing
Behind the first shutout in the program's postseason history from junior right-hander Tyler Davis, Washington defeated Georgia Tech by a score of 8-0 in the opening game of the NCAA Oxford Regional. With the win, the Huskies move into the winner's bracket, where they will play the winner of Ole Miss-Jacksonville State at 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Washington took a 1-0 lead in the first and extended the lead to 5-0 with four two-out RBI in the fourth, and it was all Davis from there. The Golden Spikes award semifinalist allowed just four hits with no walks and eight strikeouts.
"He did exactly what we had hoped he would do," head coach Lindsay Meggs said. "Nobody got to see anybody out of the bullpen. It's not just that we didn't have to use anybody; no one saw our closer or our set-up guys. The first time they take the mound will be the first time they see them. That's important."
"We had a pretty good idea about what we wanted to do," Davis said. "We wanted to make sure that they put the ball in play and force them to get three hits in an inning. Not a lot of people are able to do that. As long we don't walk guys or hit guys, we're pretty confident."
Sophomore outfielder Braden Bishop was the star offensively, as he went 3-for-3 with two runs scored, two RBI and two stolen bases. He has also become a fan favorite among Ole Miss fans at the regional, throwing the ball back and forth with fans in between innings.
"Yesterday was an interesting experience with them chanting, 'Let's go Huskies," Bishop said. "I had fun with it. These people are amazing. The fans are unbelievable. It's a first-class school. We're excited to be here and play in front of those guys."
With the loss, Georgia Tech moves into the loser's bracket where it will play the loser of Ole Miss-Jacksonville State at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
"We didn't pitch too many guys today," Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall said. "I told the team this afternoon, 'We have plenty of pitchers to get through the tournament.' Now, we have to win the next game, or we're headed back to Atlanta. That's the challenge. We have to play our best baseball tomorrow morning."
Jacksonville State enters the regional riding a season-long six-game winning streak, having won the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Championship by winning six straight elimination games in the tournament after losing their tournament opener.
"We hit .331 in the tournament and that was after going 2-for-31 in the first game," Jacksonville State head coach Jim Case said. "We got shut down pretty good in the first game. We came back and swung the bats extremely well. We might have played our best baseball that week of the whole year."
"They played a good schedule and have beaten a lot of people," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. "You look at their numbers offensively, and they mirror ours. They are very similar in they have an explosive offensive and have a good mix of power and speed. They have 70-plus stolen bases and 38 home runs, which is similar to us. It's going to be a good challenge for Chris on Friday. They're not your typical No. 4 seed."
Over the seven tournament games, the Gamecocks batted .331 and held a team ERA of 2.14. Junior right-hander Zachary Fowler will get the start against Ole Miss on Friday. He has a team-high seven wins, posting a 7-7 record with a 3.58 ERA.
"He's a guy who didn't have a lot of experience before this year on the mound," said Case of Fowler. "He played junior college and was a first baseman. He has a really nice arm. He's pitched well late in the season. He's had some stretches of brilliance, so hopefully tomorrow night he throws the way he can. If he does, we'll have a chance."
"It's their ace and the guy who's pitched in that game for them," Bianco said. "To me, we have to do what we do, especially being at home and especially being in a regional. We will lean on Chris (Ellis) to give us a great opportunity to win. Offensively, it's important that we do some things early to push the envelope and try to do some things offensively to get on the board."
Fowler started two games in the conference tournament, including a championship game victory over Tennessee Tech, where he allowed two runs on five hits with a walk and six strikeouts in 7.2 innings. Junior right-hander Travis Stout, who has 15 saves and a team-best 1.17 ERA, worked six perfect innings of relief over five tournament games.
"We had some guys that threw more than what's normal last week, and we had to," Case said. "If we don't, we're not going to advance. The question is how do they come back from that. We're OK. It's not ideal. It's not how you would set it up."
The Gamecocks, ranked No. 91 in the final official RPI rankings, have played three teams from the RPI top 50, all from the SEC, with a win against Mississippi State and a pair of losses to Alabama.
"There's a big difference in playing a team on a Tuesday night and playing a team in the first game of a regional," Case said. "We played that game for a reason, and then we played Alabama the next and played Alabama the next week. We wanted to do that in case we advanced to this tournament so that we would have experience against some very good teams."
But about that tournament JSU just won, writes Joe Medley from The Anniston Star
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