It’s win or go home for the Rebels (46-20) after Virginia walked off with the victory in the bottom of the ninth inning to send Ole Miss to the losers’ bracket. The Rebels did next to nothing offensively, mustering just one hit against Cavalier pitchers Nathan Kirby and Artie Lewicki, but still had a chance to take a lead as late as the eighth inning with two on and nobody out.
But Ole Miss got just one run out of it to tie it at the time before ultimately falling on Mike Papi’s RBI double. The Rebels will have to beat Texas Tech on Tuesday at 2 p.m. to avoid a short stay in Omaha.
Ole Miss doesn’t have time to dwell on the loss.
“We’ll go to practice (Monday) and just get ready to get better,” center fielder Auston Bousfield said. “Just flush it and be ready to play our best baseball on Tuesday.”
The Red Raiders (45-20) earned an at-large bid out of the Big 12 Conference, won the Coral Gables, Fla., regional and swept the College of Charleston in the super regional to reach the College World Series before dropping its opener 3-2 to TCU on Sunday.
Much of Texas Tech’s success has come from a pitching staff that’s only gotten stronger in the postseason. The Red Raiders, who own a team earned run average of 3.18, have yielded just seven runs in as many NCAA Tournament games.
It’ll likely be a matchup of each staff’s best from a statistical standpoint.
Freshman southpaw Dylan Dusek is in line to get the ball for the Red Raiders. Dusek (8-0), who blanked the College of Charleston over five innings his last time out in the super regional clincher — his fourth straight scoreless start — has yet to lose in 14 starts, posting a 1.94 ERA.
Ole Miss will counter with left-hander Christian Trent, who’s 9-0 with a 2.21 ERA. It’ll be the second straight week Trent will get the call in an elimination game. The first went pretty well as the redshirt sophomore allowed just one earned run on four hits over seven innings against Lousiana-Lafayette in Game 2 of the Lafayette Super Regional in a 5-2 win.
Must-win or not, Trent said he knows better than to treat the outing any differently.
“I feel like you can’t or the pressure will get to you,” Trent said. “Just as ULL as an example, I went out there with the same routine, same mindset. There were nerves in the first, but that’s usual. That’s every game. But the mindset will be the same.”
The Rebels will need a similar showing — and some more offense — to give themselves a chance.
“We’ve got to come out and play better on Tuesday against a very good Texas Tech team,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said.
See today’s and Tuesday’s editions of the EAGLE for continuing coverage of Ole Miss at the College World Series. (June 16, 2014)