For the first time in program history, the Virginia baseball team has advanced to the Finals of the Men’s College World Series after defeating Ole Miss, 4-1, Saturday in a rain-delayed game that spanned two days at TD Ameritrade Park.
The Cavaliers (52-14) will face the winner of tonight’s Vanderbilt-Texas game in the best-of-three finals of the College World Series. Game one will be on Monday, June 23 at 8 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on ESPN.
A three-run fourth inning provided all the offense the Cavaliers would need in a game in which the pitching staff did not allow an earned run. Through the first three games of the College World Series, the Virginia pitching staff has allowed four runs (0.55 team ERA).
“Our team, these last three weeks, has played with an incredible amount of poise,” Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor said. “I really believe that at championship time, it takes poise and patience to prevail. Josh Sborz was really outstanding to start last night and come back today and pitch in the clutch like he did. It really speaks to who he is.”
Sborz (McLean, Va.) started the game on Friday night and returned to the mound on Saturday, working five total innings, allowing one unearned run and scattering four hits, walking four and striking out four to improve to 6-4 on the season.
Senior right-hander Artie Lewicki (Wyckoff, N.J.) came into the game in the sixth, working three scoreless innings, allowing one hit with a walk and two strikeouts. In his three CWS appearances totaling seven innings, Lewicki has not allowed a run and in his 17.1 innings pitched in the NCAA Tournament, has not allowed an earned run.
Junior Nick Howard (Olney, Md.) broke the ACC single-season saves record, pitching a scoreless ninth inning to earn his 20th save of the year. Ole Miss right-hander Chris Ellis (10-3) took the loss; the Rebels’ ace starter came out of the bullpen and allowed three earned runs in 3.2 innings.
The Cavaliers and Rebels (48-21) were in the top of the second inning of a scoreless game on Friday night (June 20) when the game was suspended because of lightning in the area. After a heavy downpour during a delay of one hour, 33 minutes, the game was officially suspended for the night, with the resumption scheduled for Saturday.
The designated road team, Virginia began Saturday afternoon batting with two runners on and no outs in the top of the second inning, but Ole Miss reliever Scott Weathersby got out of the inning without surrendering a run.
Ole Miss scored an unearned run in the bottom of the second, with Will Allen, who had singled to start the inning, taking home plate on a delayed double steal.
After the Rebels left the bases loaded in the bottom of the third, the Cavaliers loaded the bases in the top of the fourth. Sophomore catcher Robbie Coman (Lake Worth, Fla.) hit a one-out single to right center to plate two runs. Junior second baseman Branden Cogswell (Ballston Lake, N.Y.) laid down a safety squeeze bunt, scoring sophomore designated hitter John La Prise (Exton, Pa.) from third to give UVa a 3-1 lead.
Sophomore right fielder Joe McCarthy (Scranton, Pa.) recorded his second RBI of the CWS, doubling to right-center field with two outs in the top of the seventh inning to plate freshman shortstop Daniel Pinero (Toronto, Ontario), who led off the inning with a single, giving UVa a 4-1 advantage.
Coman finished the day 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI. Junior center fielder Brandon Downes (South Plainfield, N.J) also had a pair of hits in four plate appearances, scoring a run.
Virginia is making its third-ever appearance in the College World Series, posting a 1-2 record in 2009 and a 2-2 mark in 2011. With today’s victory, the Cavaliers are 3-0 in the 2014 CWS. UVa is in search of its first national championship.