Cavaliers? Record Season Comes to End in CWS Epic
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OMAHA, Neb. Virginia’s record-setting season came to an end Wednesday night as Arkansas scored a run in the 12th inning to eliminate the Cavaliers, 4-3, in the College World Series in front of 21,383 spectators at Rosenblatt Stadium. UVa finished its season with a 49-15-1 record, setting a school record for wins while making the program’s first ever trip to the CWS.
The epic contest lasted four hours, 47 minutes the fourth-longest game by time in College World Series history. The two pitching staffs combined for 28 strikeouts (Arkansas 17, Virginia 11), which ranks third in MCWS history and the most since Texas and Southern California combined for 29 strikeouts in a 14-inning game on June 16, 1970.
The Cavaliers had plenty of opportunities throughout the contest, and particularly in the last four innings. Overall, UVa tied a season high with 14 runners left on base, but the Cavaliers stranded eight runners over the final four innings.
John Hicks (Fr., Sandy Hook, Va.) and Steven Proscia (Fr., Suffern, N.Y.) each had three hits as Virginia finished with 16 hits. Proscia finished with a Virginia freshman-record 86 hits this year.
UVa starting pitcher Danny Hultzen (Fr., Bethesda, Md.) wrapped up his outstanding freshman campaign with one of his best starts. He tossed 6.1 innings, allowing one unearned run and five hits while striking out seven. He did not walk a batter a first for him as a starter since his first collegiate start on Feb. 21 vs. Bucknell.
Andrew Carraway (Sr., Marietta, Ga.) took the loss in his final Virginia appearance. Carraway (9-2) pitched the final 3.1 innings out of the bullpen and allowed a run and three hits while striking out three. Carraway and Robert Poutier (Yorktown, Va.) were the lone seniors on the 25-man postseason roster. Carraway finished his career by pitching some of his best baseball, posting a 1.10 ERA over 16.1 innings (four games) in the NCAA tournament.
Dallas Kuechel (9-3) pitched out of four jams to earn the win for Arkansas (41-23). He tossed the final four innings and gave up three hits and three walks while fanning five. Arkansas starter Drew Smyly worked 4.2 innings, allowing two earned runs and eight hits while striking out seven. He did not walk a batter.
The starting pitchers matched zeroes for the first four innings before Virginia broke the stalemate with a two-run fifth inning. Hicks led off with a solo home run into the first row of bleachers in left field, just over the glove of outstretched left fielder Chase Leavitt. The play was originally ruled a double, but the umpires conferred and changed it to a double.
One out later, John Barr (So., Ivyland, Pa.) lined a single to right field. Tyler Cannon (Jr., Pigeon Forge, Tenn.) followed with a single to move Barr to third, although Cannon was thrown out at second while attempting to stretch his hit to a double. Hultzen then came up with a clutch RBI single to left field to plate Barr and push the lead to two.
In the seventh, Arkansas cracked the scoreboard with its first run. With one out, Bo Bigham reached on an error. He moved to third when Zack Cox doubled to left field, which spelled the end of the night for Hultzen on the mound. Wilson entered and induced Brett Eibner to hit a sacrifice fly to center field before getting James McCann to ground to third base to end the inning.
Virginia tacked on a run in the eighth inning when Dan Grovatt (So., Tabernacle, N.J.) ripped a solo home run to left-center field for his eighth home run of the year.
Down to their final strike in the ninth inning, the Razorbacks staged a dramatic rally, as Cox singled up the middle on a 1-2 pitch and Eibner followed with a long two-run home run to left field to tie the game.
Virginia loaded the bases with one out in the ninth inning, but Hultzen hit a rocket to shortstop Tim Carver, who initially bobbled the ball but still was able to turn the 6-4-3 double play and beat Hultzen by a split second at first base.
The Cavaliers again had an opportunity to score in the 10th inning, putting runners at second and third with one out, but Keuchel struck out the final two batters to escape. In the 11th, Virginia loaded the bases with two out before Grovatt grounded out to second to finish the frame.
The Hogs broke the tie in the 12th inning. With one out, Jarrod McKinney singled and then stole second. He scored when Andrew Darr doubled down the left-field line.
UVa again had a chance in its half of the 12th, as Proscia hit the first pitch just inside the third-base line for a double. He stole third as Jarrett Parker (So., Stafford, Va.) struck out for the first out, but Hicks and Valdes struck out the end the game.