OXFORD, Miss. — After sitting through Friday’s rain delay that never really saw much rain at the Oxford Regional, Ole Miss and Washington looked like the extra day of rest came in handy. Washington shut out Georgia Tech 8-0 and Ole Miss beat Jacksonville State 12-2 on Saturday. Here are three observations from a regional that took 22 extra hours to finally begin.
1. Tech wrecked by Huskies hurler Tyler Davis
Three-seed Georgia Tech could only scatter four hits off of Washington junior Tyler Davis. Behind a mix of mid-80s fastballs and changeups, Davis threw his first career complete game in the Huskies’ 8-0 win against the Yellow Jackets.
Tech (36-26) will face elimination on Sunday against Jacksonville State. The first of three games on the day is scheduled for 11 a.m.
It was also second-seeded Washington’s first complete game of the season and the Huskies (40-15-1) first-ever NCAA tournament shutout in 36 games, this the first postseason trip since 2004. Davis (11-2) threw 103 pitches and struck out eight, the second-most of his career.
"He was real aggressive, pounded the zone," said Georgia Tech first baseman Thomas Smith. "I don’t think he does anything special, but he comes right at you."
Smith, the Jackets’ cleanup hitter, and three-hole Matt Gonzalez were a combined 1-for-8.
The defense — Washington is sixth in the country — did work behind Davis, too. In the eighth inning Chris Baker accounted for two outs, a diving stop, then a leaping grab at third base.
"He has absolute command of everything he throws," Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall said of Davis, whose ERA fell to 1.60. "He basically got us out with fastballs."
Georgia Tech used three pitchers. Starter Josh Heddinger pitched 5.2 innings and gave up five runs. He hit two batters, one in a four-run fourth inning. After an intentional walk loaded the bases for the Huskies, Erik Forgione’s RBI single made it 2-0. Braden Bishop added a two-run single then Andrew Ely hit a single that made it 5-0.
Washington scored a run in the first inning after leadoff hitter Bishop was hit. After a sac bunt and steal, Austin Rei drove in the run. Bishop reached base in all five plate appearances.
Heddinger threw 121 pitches and struck out six. Hall said Georgia Tech will likely start lefty Devin Stanton on Sunday.
"Really proud of Tyler and the way he competed," said Washington coach Lindsay Meggs. "That’s been his M.O. All year long, no fear, go after people."
2. Bortles took a spill as the Ole Miss freshmen delivered
New Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles said before the NFL Draft that he would pay for his brother’s tuition at Ole Miss. All the money in the world couldn’t have paid for the play Colby Bortles nearly made in the ninth inning of Ole Miss’ 12-2 win against Jacksonville State.
Bortles, a freshman, entered the game in the seventh inning as a pinch hitter. He delivered a two-run single with the bases loaded to give Ole Miss a 12-1 lead.
But the play Bortles won’t be able to live down from his friends came in the ninth. With the game well in hand and Bortles at first base, he drifted back for a fly ball in shallow right, stumbled and landed on his hind end. He still nearly caught the ball.
Five freshmen got hits for Ole Miss, including J.B. Woodman, Dalton Dulin and Brantley Bell and starting shortstop Errol Robinson. Woodman had an RBI single in a five-run first inning.
Ole Miss’ freshmen played with an aggression against Jacksonville State and that the older Bortles will need in Jacksonville.
"We normally are aggressive, but I thought we were even more so today," Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said."With the base running and stealing and really trying to push the envelope a little bit, really trying to get us into it, instead of trying to sit back."
The Rebels stole two-of-three bases and scored their most runs in a regional since scoring 16 in the 2010 Charlottesville Regional.
3. Huskies, Rebels friendly, but not Sunday
Ole Miss’ wild right field student section chanted "Let’s go Huskies" during Friday’s eventual postponement. That won’t be the case Sunday when the top-seeded Rebels face No. 2 Washington, the Pac 12’s second-best team, with the Huskies likely a win away from hosting their own regional.
"They put a lot of pressure on you," said Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco. "We’ll do some different things offensively. You can see why they came in second in one of the best baseball conferences in the country."
Both got complete games from starters Saturday, alleviating for now any worries due to a three-game day after Friday’s postponement. Ole Miss will start Christian Trent (8-0, 2.44).
That game is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET. Georgia Tech and Jacksonville State will play the noon opener in an elimination game, the winner playing again at 8. Georgia Tech will likely pitch junior lefty Devin Stanton (5-3, 2.27).
"We have plenty of pitchers to get through the tournament," Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall said. "But if you don’t win the next game, we’re heading back to Atlanta."