CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Two weather delays that lasted a total of 18 hours and 25 minutes moved the conclusion of game two of the 2013 NCAA Charlottesville Super Regional to Monday afternoon where Mississippi State adverted ninth inning heroics by Virginia, holding onto a 6-5 win in front of a sellout crowd of 4,956 at Davenport Field. Mississippi State wins the super regional series 2-0 and advances to the College World Series, which begins June 15 at TD Ameritrade Stadium in Omaha, Neb.
Virginia scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning and had the tying run on third base when Derek Fisher (So., Rexmont, Pa.) grounded out to third base to end the game. Kenny Towns (So., Burke, Va.) led off the final frame with a single to right field. Nate Irving (So., Yonkers, N.Y.) grounded out softly to second base, allowing Towns to advance to second. Mike Papi (So., Tunkhannock, Pa.) walked, reaching base for the 22nd consecutive game. After Jared King (Sr., Radford, Va.) stuck out, Joe McCarthy (Fr., Scranton, Pa.) singled, scoring Towns. Brandon Downes (So., South Plainfield, N.J.) then reached base when his ball hit deep in the hold on the right side was muffed by MSU closer Jonathan Holder, allowing Papi to score when the ball rolled into Virginia’s dugout. Holder then secured his 18th save of the season when he induced Fisher to ground out, ending UVa’s season.
Mississippi State improves to 48-18, while UVa concludes the 2013 season with a 50-12 mark, the third 50-win season in program history and third in the past four seasons.
Virginia dented the scoreboard first on Sunday with a mammoth solo home run by Downes to leadoff the second inning. The sophomore’s team-leading 10th dinger of the season cleared the deepest section of bleachers in the Hoo Zone in left field, staking the Cavaliers to an early 1-0 lead.
Mississippi State bounced back in the bottom of the second inning tying the game, which included a 22-minute rain delay. With one out C.T. Bradford walked, then the rain delay started with Demarcus Henderson at bat with a 2-0 count. Once play resumed, Henderson walked to put runners on first and second. After Nick Ammirati was out on batter’s interference, Derrick Armstrong singled on a softly hit ball to short, loading the bases. Adam Frazier lined a single up the middle, scoring Bradford to tie the game at 1-1, and trying to score from second on the play was Henderson, who was retired at home on a precision throw by Downes in centerfield, ending the threat.
The Bulldogs took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the third inning on a two-out rally. UVa hurler Scott Silverstein (Sr., Olney, Md.) almost was out of the frame when Brett Pirtle hit a bounding ball toward the hole on the left side of the infield. Nick Howard (So., Olney, Md.) came up with the ball, but Pirtle beat the throw for an infield single. The very next pitch to MSU’s first baseman Wes Rea was tagged beyond the left-centerfield fence for a two-run shot, giving Mississippi State the 3-1 lead.
MSU pushed two more runs across in the bottom of the fourth to take a 5-1 lead. To leadoff the frame, Henderson capped a ball down the first base line that was rolling foul, but then on a bounce jumped back toward the line and by the time the catcher Howard picked the ball back up it had rolled back onto the chalk of the baseline, resulting in an infield single. Ammirati advanced Henderson to second base on a sacrifice bunt. Armstrong singled through the left side to put runners on first and third with one out. Frazier collected his second hit of the night with a single to right field, scoring Henderson. UVa skipper Brian O’Connor went to the bullpen for the first time to bring in Kyle Crockett (Jr., Poquoson, Va.) who promptly struck out Alex Detz. Crockett had Hunter Renfroe on the ropes before the right fielder hit a crisp grounder toward the hole at short. Howard came up with the ball but his throw hit the dirt and first baseman King couldn’t come up with the pick, and Armstrong scored on the error, closing the book on Silverstein.
UVa tacked two runs on the board in the top of the sixth inning to cut its deficit to two runs, 5-3. Downes led the inning off with a four-pitch walk. MSU reliever Chad Girodo struck out Fisher and Reed Gragnani (Sr., Richmond, Va.) and after a Howard single was on the verge of ringing up Towns on strikes. But the UVa third baseman drew a walk to load the bases. Catcher Irving roped a missile that went through the glove of MSU third baseman Detz who was playing almost even with the bag. The double scored Downes and Howard.
As the game moved to the bottom of the seventh inning, a monsoon hit the Charlottesville area sending the contest into an 18-hour, three-minute rain delay. When play resumed on Monday afternoon with Renfroe at bat with a 0-2 count, the MSU right fielder ripped the second pitch he saw down the right field line for a double. Renfroe advanced to third on the play when Joe McCarthy (Fr., Scranton, Pa.) mishandled the ball in right field. Crockett, who returned to the hill after the delay, struck out Pirtle and intentionally walked Rea to put runners on first and third. Bradford singled to right field to score Renfroe and increase the Mississippi State advantage to three runs, 6-3. Renfroe’s run proved to be the difference Mississippi State needed to clinch the series in game two.
Silverstein picked up the loss for UVa to fall to 10-2, while MSU’s Chad Girodo tossed 4.2 innings of relief to pick up the win and improve to 8-1 on the season.