A magical season ends.
Mike Bianco and the Rebels finally broke through to the College World Series with a team picked to finish sixth in the Western Division by SEC coaches.
There were question marks all around this team, yet it went 19-11 in the SEC, eliminated two national seeds from the NCAA tournament and delivered the school’s first Omaha trip since 1972.
More on that in the days to come.
The Rebels found two things when they got to Omaha: One, they were good enough to win the whole thing, and two, good pitching beats good hitting.
That was the story line in today’s season-ending loss. The Rebels had one great chance to break through against Virginia pitching and didn’t do it. Cavs starter Josh Sorbz got stronger, lasted five innings and the Rebels managed just two hits over the final four innings against a stellar bullpen.
Here’s Auston Bousfield:
As so often happens, once the Rebels failed to cash in on a big opportunity in the third, Virginia did not fail in the fourth. The Cavs put up three runs, took a 3-1 lead and never looked back.
Ole Miss went up 1-0 in the second on hits from Will Allen and J.B. Woodman. Allen was at third when Woodman stole second, and Allen scored on the throw home.
In the third, Errol Robinson led off with a hit, took second on a wild pitch and was bunted to third by Austin Knight. Braxton Lee reached with a walk, took second on a wild pitch and suddenly the Rebels were at second and third with one.
But Sorbz got Auston Bousfield swinging, and after walking Austin Anderson to load the bases, got Allen to line to third to leave the bases loaded.
Because so little baseball was played on Friday, both coaches had the option of bringing back their starters. Virginia coach Brian O’Connor brought back Sorbz, but Mike Bianco opted to go with Scott Weathersby.
Biacno knew he would go to Chris Ellis quickly but liked the idea of bringing in Weathersby with men on base — There were runners first and second and no outs when play ended Friday — and Weathersby responded by setting down the Cavs in order and stranding the runners.
Weathersby replaced Jeremy Massie, who started the game on Friday. Here’s Massie:
Virginia had just eight hits, but walks were a problem for Ellis with three in his 3.2 innings pitched. Ole Miss had just six hits giving it a total of seven hits and two runs in 18 CWS innings against the Cavs.
Virginia advances to the championship round where it will face either Texas or Vanderbilt, which are playing now.