"Virginia was just too good today," said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco after his team fell to 39-23. "We didn't pitch well enough, and certainly we didn't play good enough defense to give ourselves a chance to win. And I don't mean to take anything away from them."
The Rebels had opportunities to quit but didn't. They continued to compete, even when things looked their bleakest. And that was often. Perhaps the most significant turns in the contest came in the third inning. Down 3-0 after two complete, Ole Miss tied it up in the bottom of the third. It looked for a while the Rebels were getting to all-star starter Danny Hultzen of the Cavaliers. They might have, too, except that the Virginia hitters were locked in on Barrett.
In that top of the third, Taylor Hashman's double to the left corner scored two runs. Matt Smith then singled to left to get Hashman home.
It all appeared to be unraveling a bit for Hultzen early in the inning when a one-out double by Kevin Mort got things started. The ball went over center fielder Jarrett Parker's head, and Mort stood on second with the Rebs' first hit of the contest.
Hultzen walked around and regrouped, then proceeded to throw six straight balls, walking Miles Hamblin before Tim Ferguson flew out to right.
Hultzen then threw a wild pitch that allowed the runners to scoot up to second and third. The UVA lefty again walked away from the mound, took several deep breaths, then readied himself.
But that's when Hashman sent a ball to the left corner that scored Mort and Hamblin. Regroup time again for Hultzen, but to no avail. That's when Smith singled to score Hashman to knot things up.
Tied 3-3, the Cavaliers answered the Rebels' three runs with four of their own in the bottom of the third. That's when things turned and began to unravel for the Rebs.
Barrett walked leadoff batter Keith Werman, but Werman was thrown out trying to steal second. Dan Grovatt tripled, and Steven Proscia walked. Parker, who had misplayed Mort's ball hit to center, made up for it with a double to score Grovatt and give his team a 4-3 lead.
After a second out, an error on Barrett on a play at first allowed Tyler Cannon to reach and Proscia to score. Franco Valdes singled to score Parker, and John Barr got a base hit to score Cannon.
Down 7-3, the uphill climb would only get worse for the Rebels. But it was bad enough at that point.
"Deflating," Bianco said of that bottom of the third. But there was plenty of time left, and the Rebels continued to fight.
"I was proud of our guys, because again we continued to swing it offensively and stay in it," Bianco said. "Even the innings we didn't score we got good swings off. We needed to put another good three or four run inning together to get close enough, and we couldn't do it."
UVA added four more in the fourth to lead 11-3. But Ole Miss came roaring back in the top of the fifth to close the gap somewhat.
Smith's single over the shortstop's head scored Miles Hamblin who had reached when hit by Hultzen, and it was 11-4.
After Matt Snyder walked, Zach Miller doubled to score Smith and Snyder. That made it 11-6, and things stood that way until a Phil Gosselin RBI single scored a run to make a 12-6 after six.
Taylor Hashman's leadoff solo homer in the seventh kept the Rebs within striking distance at 12-7. But UVA added a run in the eighth for the final margin.
"Our team grinded it out," said UVA head coach Brian O'Connor after his ballclub improved to 49-11. "Danny Hultzen found a way to get us to the seventh inning by toughening up and making pitches."
"It's really important for a starting pitcher to go deep in a game, especially at regionals," Hultzen said. "When we have big games like that, it's the pitcher's job to eat up innings and just get through it."
Barrett made it through just two and two-thirds innings of the game and came out during that four-run frame for UVA which made it 7-3. Seven runs were scored while he was on the mound, but only three of them were earned. He had three walks and only one strikeout while facing 17 batters.
"You can say what you want, but at the end of the day I just didn't compete hard enough," said Barrett, who fell to 7-5 on the season after a 6-0 start. "Our offense came out today and swung it well. I got behind in counts and didn't make enough pitches. I didn't give our team a chance to win today."
Bianco said the loss didn't all fall on Barrett.
"Certainly each inning started off poorly for him, and that's disappointing," he said. "But he's a great competitor. It's just one of those things that we didn't collectively do enough."
Crouse went an inning with four runs on five hits, a walk and two strikeouts. Matt Tracy went the rest of the way, 4.1 innings with two runs on six hits, two walks and a strikeout.
Hultzen was relieved after six innings, but the Rebels had gotten to him a bit. Ole Miss had six runs on seven hits, and the sophomore had walked three and struck out three.
He was replaced in the game by Branden Kline, who finished things up, going three innings and allowing a run on two hits with a walk and four strikeouts.
The Rebels' offense was productive with nine hits in the contest. But not as much as the Cavaliers, who had 17 hits.
Hultzen moved to 10-1 with the win.
In tomorrow's game against St. John's, the Rebels will start sophomore RHP David Goforth (1-5, 8.41 ERA)
The Red Storm (41-19) will start RHP Bruce Kern (6-5, 5.91).
If the Rebels beat St. John's, they'll play Virginia again at 6 p.m. ET Sunday.