OXFORD – Chances to score against the Virginia pitching staff were few and well-spaced Sunday, and Ole Miss did not take enough advantage when they were there.
The Rebels collected seven hits but produced only one run in a 5-1 season-ending loss to the Omaha-bound Cavaliers.
With two teams similar in styles, there were some key differences. Neither hit many home runs this season, and both relied on what would be termed “small ball.” Virginia’s style was built on stolen bases, and the Rebels’ was built on sacrifice bunts.
Ole Miss executed a sacrifice bunt to push across its only run in the first inning, but was unable to get down a good bunt when it had a chance to push across runs in the fourth.
As in Saturday’s game, Ole Miss leadoff hitter Jordan Henry began the game with a double. In Game 2 Logan Power followed with a homer, but in Game 3 he bunted Henry to third.
Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said he believed runs would be at a premium and wanted to make sure Henry scored after the double.
“The way everybody pitched the entire weekend, any time you had a chance to score a run you needed to do so,” Bianco said. “One time it worked, in the first when we got (Matt) Smith’s big two-out hit. It didn’t work later in the fourth.”
What could have been
Smith’s sharp single to center field might have scored Henry from second and easily scored him from third. But in the fourth after Kyle Henson led off with a single and took second on an error, Zach Miller’s bunt was so hard that pitcher Tyler Wilson was able to throw out Henson at third by a wide margin.
David Phillips followed with a swinging strikeout, and Miller was stranded at first when Kevin Mort flied to right.
Virginia backed its good pitching with solid defense. The Rebels’ next best chance to score was in the sixth when designated hitter Matt Snyder led off with a walk. Smith followed with a line drive smash to first that looked like it was destined for the right field corner, but Virginia’s Danny Hultzen, who was holding Snyder, snared the line drive and quickly touched the bag for the double play.
“Off the bat I thought it was a hit, but it looked like he didn’t even move off the bag,” Smith said. “It was right at him, and he made a good play.”
Parrish Alford/ NEMS Daily Journal