Ole Miss, Washington to meet in Oxford Regional final
JUN 02, 2014 12:45a ET
OXFORD, Miss. -- Ole Miss protected home field on Sunday, despite a failed squeeze that had coach Mike Bianco all worked up. The Rebels play in Monday's Oxford Regional championship game against Washington, 4-2 winners against Georgia Tech in Sunday's late elimination game. Ole Miss beat Washington 2-1 in Sunday's second game. Here are three cuts from nearly 12 long hours of baseball.
1. Don't ask Mike Bianco about a failed squeeze
After taking a 1-0 lead on J.B. Woodman's RBI double in the fifth inning of a 2-1 win against Washington, Ole Miss tried to squeeze in a second run. But when Will Jamison failed to get the bunt down, Woodman and Will Allen both ended up at third base. That's not allowed and by some form of elimination, Woodman was called out.
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco likely wasn't happy with the botched attempt and he seemingly wasn't all that thrilled with a question about it afterward. Asked if he thought an Auston Bousfield home run an inning later made up for the failed squeeze:
"Well yeah, because the squeeze we were supposed to score and we didn't," Bianco said. "So the home run got that run back.
"But you know, it's baseball. It's tough when a guy doesn't make a play, but the good thing is if you're a good team, things happen like that. If a guy makes an error, a pitcher picks him up and strikes out the next guy. If a pitcher gives up a few base hits and a pitcher comes out of the bullpen and strikes out the guy, that's how you win baseball games."
Ole Miss did win the game and advanced to Monday's championship game. Aaron Greenwood got his fourth save of the season after coming in the seventh inning with a one-run lead. With runners at second and third and one out, Greenwood struck out Ryan Wiggins and got a lineout from Erik Forgione.
This after starter Christian Trent didn't back up the catcher on Robert Pehl's RBI single that cut Ole Miss' lead to one, but Greenwood came from the pen and picked up Trent.
"We're not going to be perfect," Bianco said. "We're going to make mistakes. But that's what this team's been able to do all year long, is make a mistake, then bounce back and not let it magnify or blow the game up."
2. Georgia Tech put out to stay in
Georgia Tech ended Sunday night in Oxford packing to go back to Atlanta, but the Yellow Jackets stayed in the tournament thanks to a 4-1 win that eliminated Jacksonville State in the day's opener.
Tied at one in the seventh inning, Jacksonville State's Tyler Gamble and Cal Lambert each singled. As Gamble rounded second, Georgia Tech right fielder Ryan Peurifoy sent a rope to third baseman Brandon Gold. Gamble was safe, until he slid past the bag.
It was Tech's 23rd outfield assist this season, tying the Jackets with Cal State Bakersfield for tops in the NCAA.
"That was clutch, big time. He's got a great arm," Georgia Tech left fielder Matt Gonzalez said. "That was definitely a turning point in the game, for sure."
Georgia Tech also turned two double plays, to extend the team's NCAA lead and school record to 77.
Gonzalez's two-out double in the top of the ninth broke the tie, but it was more defense that kept things even. In the bottom of the eighth, Michael Bishop walked and advanced on Eddie More-Loera's sac bunt. When Griff Gordon grounded to Tech freshman Connor Justus at short, Justus threw to third to pick off a surprisingly-running Bishop.
"He's played great for us all year. We've obviously turned a lot of double plays," said Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall. "I thought Peurifoy's throw was a big part of the game. The kid overslid the bag. Then that's a base-running mistake on their part. Gordon smoked the ball right at Connor. He's heads up. He knew he could make that play and he's an accurate thrower. He gets rid of the ball real quick. A lot of guys wouldn't have even tried it, but that's just the way he plays. He plays with a lot of confidence."
3. Rematch of ranked teams to decide a champion
Washington could use those the two hours it lost flying two time zones to Oxford, especially after Sunday's two-game day.
Ole Miss finished the regular season ranked No. 12 by Baseball America, Washington No. 14. Washington (41-16-1) will have to beat Ole Miss (43-18) twice to advance to a Super Regional.
The Rebels will throw right-handed junior Sam Smith (5-4, 3.58). Washington coach Lindsay Meggs was asked about his team's pitching situation.
"How do you feel?" Meggs responded.
He joked, but not when he said the Huskies will throw everybody. Washington may not have a true fourth starter, but Ole Miss has yet to see closer Troy Rallings -- if the exhausted Huskies can get that far. Their win against Tech ended just shy of 10:30 p.m. CT.
Georgia Tech was a double play away from maybe changing how it ended. In the bottom of the first, before a 30-minute rain delay the Northwest team would have been glad to play through, Washington starter Jared Fisher walked A.J. Murray and Connor Justus with the bases loaded. But a double play ended the inning with the bases still loaded.
"I think if we get a hit there, get another run, it just makes it harder for them to come back," Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall said.