In dramatic fashion for the second time in three nights, UVA baseball pulled out a down-to-the-wire win in the opening round of the College World Series on Tuesday, this time in 15 innings to take down fellow top-seed Texas Christian University 3-2. The win puts the Cavaliers one victory away from advancing to the best-of-three championship series.
Tuesday night’s 15-inning marathon remained tied at 2-2 since the fifth and required seven total pitchers, all of whom threw multiple innings. “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” was played twice—once every seventh inning—in a contest that lasted almost five hours and tied a College World Series record set in 1970 for most innings played.
The Hoos were hitless in their first fifteen at-bats in extra innings, until junior catcher Nate Irving led off the bottom of the 15th with a ground-rule-double. He was then substituted for junior pinch-runner Thomas Woodruff who advanced to third after a sacrifice bunt. Having committed two uncharacteristic errors earlier in the game, freshman shortstop Daniel Pinero got his opportunity for redemption. After missing on his first two bunt attempts, Pinero hit a sacrifice fly deep enough for Woodruff to score safely and close the game.
In a press conference after the game, a jovial coach Brian O’Connor expressed pride in the team. “Wow, that was a heck of a baseball game,” he said, echoing his post-game reaction after the Cavaliers’ late-game heroics against TCU on Sunday. “I know the two teams still in our bracket are not going away, but I am just really proud of our club. They’ve grinded all year, and today was another great example of that.”
With the two recent victories, the Cavaliers earned a bye and are now one win away from advancing to the championship series. By eliminating TCU Thursday, Ole Miss stayed alive to now stand as the final hurdle for UVA on its journey to the championship round. UVA beat Ole Miss 2-1 on Sunday, and the rematch will take place Friday, June 20 at 8pm. If Virginia wins, they advance to the finals of the College World Series; if they lose, they face Ole Miss again in a winner-take-all match-up. —Chase Gunter