Not since 1972 has Ole Miss made a trip to the College World Series, but after a 5-1 loss to No. 5 Virginia Sunday, they'll have to wait another year for a possible return trip.
A three-run bottom of the fifth spelled victory for the Cavaliers, who will be making their first appearance in Omaha, NE in school history.
With the loss, Ole Miss finishes the season with an overall record of 44-20 and is now 3-8 in Super Regional play since the NCAA transitioned to the format in 1999.
"We play for a trip to Omaha and to win a national championship every year," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. "We're all disappointed. When you get to this point, your dream is to win and move on. Not just for me but, more importantly, for the players. These kids have worked so hard. When you get this close and don't make it, it hurts a lot. Today, (Virginia) just did more than we did."
Junior Nathan Baker, who entered the day sporting and ERA of 3.63, took the loss for the Rebels, after allowing four runs, two earned, over five complete innings.
The southpaw notched six strikeouts and one walk in his seventh start of the year, before giving way to RHP Rory McKean after 87 pitches in the sixth.
"I felt great the whole time I was in," said Baker who finished the year with and overall record of 4-3. "I had a lot of backup behind me. I had a lot of supporters. That's probably one of the reasons that I felt so good. Towards the end of the fifth inning, I was just leaving some of the pitches up and the Virginia hitters just knew how to react to it."
For the second day in the row, Ole Miss got the scoring started in the top of the first, as junior Jordan Henry led off the inning with a double to right-center. After a SAC bunt by Logan Power advanced Henry to third, DH Matt Snyder struck out, but 1B Matt Smith sent a single to right field to plate the first run of the game.
Virginia (48-13-1) responded in the fourth, as Phil Gosselin singled up the middle with one out. A walk to Cavalier clean-up hitter Dan Grovatt put runners at first and second, but the pair would advance after a double steal, before John Hicks knocked a SAC fly to right field to plate the equalizer.
The Cavalier offense came alive in the bottom of the fifth, as a single for Steven Proscia got the rally started. Proscia then stole second, one of six for Virginia in the game, before Franco Valdes shot a single through the middle of the infield to give his team a 2-1 lead.
An error by shortstop Kevin Mort allowed John Barr to reach base and move Valdes to third, but Barr stole second on a failed pickoff attempt. Baker then struck out Jarrett Parker for the first out of the inning, but Tyler Cannon brought in a run with a SAC fly to centerfield. A Gosselin single to right would add one more, as Virginia held a 4-1 advantage.
"Well, I think there was nobody out, so I wanted to get a double play," Mort said of the error. "I saw the big hop, so I came to get it, but I misplayed it. That was a big time play in the game. It might have been the key play of the whole game for us."
Virginia would get the final run of the game in the bottom of the eighth, as Hicks led off the inning with a double to left field. A single by Hultzen followed, before Proscia delivered an RBI double to give his team a 5-1 lead.
But with runners at second and third and no outs, Rebel closer Jake Morgan retired the next three batters he faced.
"One of the things I'm really proud of is how hard our kids competed all series," Bianco said. "If you watched the game, you gotta be proud. Obviously, our offense didn't score a lot of runs (this weekend), but neither did they. It was three really well-played ballgames. Both teams played really well. For the most part, if you look at the 27 innings, it was pretty clean on both sides. But again, we didn't do enough."
Like their previous two years when hosting a Super Regional (2005, 2006), the Rebels won the opening game and lost the next two to be eliminated from the postseason.
Ole Miss fell to 41-33 all-time in NCAA Tournament play in the loss, and is now 19-17 in tourney games under Bianco. The Rebels are 0-6 in the visiting dugout during Super Regionals at Swayze Field.
The Rebels dropped to 26-10 this season when scoring first, including losses yesterday and today. Ole Miss was held to only one run for the just the third time this season, moving to 0-3 in such contests.
Virginia starter Robert Poutier lasted only 2.2 innings in the win, allowing two hits, one run and two walks. He was relieved by Tyler Wilson, who threw 3.1 innings of shutout baseball, with three strikeouts against 12 batters faced.
The Cavalier pitching staff held a 2.33 ERA against Ole Miss over the weekend, and have a overall average of 1.50 since Regional play began.
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