By Parrish Alford
OXFORD – Christian Trent left his Oxford Regional start before his well-armed counterpart, but Trent had two important advantages.
The lead and Aaron Greenwood.
Scratched from his SEC tournament start because of shoulder stiffness, Trent rebounded with six straight scoreless innings, and Aaron Greenwood pitched out of jams in the seventh and eighth innings as No. 1 regional seed Ole Miss defeated No. 2 seed Washington 2-1 before a crowd of 9,599 at Swayze Field on Sunday afternoon.
The Rebels (43-18) will face Washington – a 4-2 winner over Georgia Tech – at 2 p.m. today. One win claims the regional title for Ole Miss. A second game, if necessary, would follow.
“A low-scoring game where every pitch seems to matter. We made enough pitches and got enough hits,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said.
Freshman J.B. Woodman had an RBI double in the fourth, and junior center fielder Auston Bousfield had a solo home run in the fifth to account for the Ole Miss runs.
Washington junior right-hander Jeff Brigham redshirted last season after Tommy John surgery. He normally operates on a very strict pitch count but had season-highs of seven innings and 124 pitches. He made things tough on the Rebels with a mid-90s fastball, his effectiveness reducing Greenwood’s margin for error.
There was optimism in the Huskies’ (40-16-1) dugout after they chased Trent.
Greenwood, though, jumped ahead with 0-2 counts against pinch-hitter Ryan Wiggins and nine-hole hitter Erik Forgione.
Getting Wiggins with a strikeout was non-negotiable according to his coach.
“Coach B told us we really needed a strikeout to hold the guy at third base, to not let them put it in play and have a chance to score,” Greenwood said.
Greenwood got the first two outs of the eighth before a walk and a bloop single put runners at the corners. He again stranded the tying run at third with a swinging strikeout of designated hitter Trevor Mitsui, the five-hole hitter.
Greenwood pitched a perfect ninth and struck out the last two batters to earn his fourth save.
Ole Miss goes to Day 3 having used only Greenwood from its bullpen.
“We have the pitching depth, but if you don’t win this game you’re looking at 27 more innings – without extra innings – to win the regional,” Bianco said. “It’s nice that you can kind of stay in line like a normal weekend.”