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OXFORD, Miss. — In the end, the Huskies came one hit short.
The Huskies stranded go-ahead and then tying runs on the bases in the last innings and Ole Miss’ Sikes Orvis hit a run-scoring triple in the top of the 10th inning as UW lost to host Mississippi in the championship round of the NCAA tournament’s Oxford regional 3-2 in 10 innings at Oxford-University Stadium.
The Huskies (41-17-1) finish with their most wins since 2003 and only the fifth time in school history UW has won at least 40 in a season. At one point the Huskies won 19 of 21 games and raised to as high as fifth in the national rankings — the highest in program history.
The team league coaches said would finish 10th in the 11-team Pac-12 this season fell one hit short of advancing to its first best-of-three super regional since the NCAA went to a 64-team tournament format in 1999.
“I’m really proud of my team,” said fifth-year coach Lindsay Meggs. “We’ve come a long way in a short amount of time. Like I told my team when we talked, it’s about life lessons. … It hurts, but we’ve learned to count on each other. And we came here and represented ourselves as fine young men and representatives of our great university.
“I don’t think you will ever see anyone play harder.”
Ole Miss (44-18) will either travel to Louisiana-Lafayette or host Mississippi State in the Super Regional round this weekend.
Washington threw five pitchers in the game. Alex Nesbitt (0-1) took the loss.
Ole Miss scored first when freshman Colby Bortles hit a solo homer in the second. Washington responded with a run on Branden Berry’s single in the third and then pulled ahead 2-1 on Brian Wolfe’s sacrifice fly in the fifth.
Bortles doubled home a run in the sixth to tie the game 2-2.
Scott Weathersby (2-1) earned the win for Ole Miss.
UW reliever Will Ballowe, who had to start because no one else could, was strong, and Nesbitt, pitching for the first time in a month, was solid in relief of him for four innings — two more than he’s ever gone — before he got hurt in the 10th inning.
Ole Miss took the lead on a two-out triple by Orvis, the regional most valuable player, that eluded fill-in right fielder Kyle London off the grandstand railing down the line. London slipped on the warning track soaked by two downpours that halted the seventh inning for nearly two hours.
That rain, a presence throughout UW’s entire, five-day stay here, poured down in the top of the seventh with Ole Miss having a runner at second, one out and a 3-0 count on Ole Miss’ batter. The delay was 1 hour, 52 minutes — made longer by the fact the umpires ordered the grounds crew to not put the tarp over the infield immediately. It poured for five more minutes before the tarp went on, making the infield look like a lake. When the sun came out, it took too long for the infield to be prepared — 30 minutes. By then another downpour drenched the stadium.
Ballowe was tremendous in the emergency start for the Huskies, who don’t really have a fourth starting pitcher and had already used their main three the previous day.
The sophomore left-hander, usually a set-up reliever, allowed six hits and a solo home run by Bortles, Ole Miss’ No. 6 hitter, in 4? innings. It was the longest outing of Ballowe’s career. He struck out one and did not walk anyone in his third start of the season and fifth as a Husky, giving UW exactly what it needed.