OMAHA, Neb. – The Virginia baseball team’s remarkable 2011 season came to a close Friday evening when South Carolina scored a run in the bottom of the 13th inning to break a 2-all deadlock and post an epic 3-2 College World Series win in front of a record crowd of 25,882 at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. The Cavaliers finish their season with a school-record 56 wins and a 56-12 record.
South Carolina (53-14) advances to the CWS Championship Series and will play Florida beginning Monday.
Both teams had multiple scoring opportunities, but in most cases could not capitalize. Virginia left 15 runners on base and hit into four double plays, while South Carolina stranded 14 in the four-hour, 25-minute marathon. It marked UVa’s longest game of the season both in innings and game time.
Virginia’s pitching staff shined once again. Branden Kline (Jr., Frederick, Md.) worked a season-high 5.0 innings from the eighth through 12th innings and evaded multiple problems to hold the Gamecocks scoreless. He allowed three hits and four walks but struck out a career-high seven batters. Pressed into early duty, Kyle Crockett (Fr., Poquoson, Va.) tied a career high by pitching four innings while allowing just a pair of fourth-inning runs.
Pitching while under the weather, UVa starter Danny Hultzen (Jr., Bethesda, Md.) gutted out three innings and struck out eight of the 10 batters he faced. He finished the season with 165 strikeouts – fourth most in a single season in ACC history. The UVa staff finished the season with an NCAA-low 2.24 earned run average and a school-record 664 strikeouts.
Cody Winiarski (Sr., Franksville, Wis.) took the loss for UVa and fell to 6-4 after pitching to three batters in the 13th inning. Matt Price (7-3) earned the win for South Carolina after tossing the final 5.2 innings, shutting out the Cavaliers while allowing seven hits and five walks. USC starter Michael Roth worked 7.0 innings, allowing an earned run, four hits and two walks while striking out five.
John Barr (Sr., Ivyland, Pa.) finished with three hits for UVa, while Kenny Swab (Sr., Kernersville, N.C.) and Colin Harrington (So., Johnstown, Pa.) each notched a pair of hits. UVa finished with 11 hits.
Virginia scored first, taking a 1-0 lead when it plated a run in the top of the second inning. Steven Proscia (Jr., Suffern, N.Y.) led off the frame by walking on five pitches. Jared King (Jr., Radford, Va.) singled into shallow right field, moving Proscia to third base. Proscia scored when Swab grounded into the 6-4-3 double play.
Hultzen was pinpoint to start the game despite his illness. He struck out eight of the 10 batters he faced through three innings, including the first six batters, before he was removed in favor of Crockett.
South Carolina welcomed Crockett to the game by scoring two runs in the fourth inning to take a 2-1 advantage. After Scott Wingo led off the inning by striking out, Christian Walker started the rally with a double to right field. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit an infield single to shortstop to put runners on first and second with one out. Crockett loaded the bases after hitting Adrian Morales with a pitch. Brady Thomas then drove in two runs with a double to left field.
Virginia bounced back in the top of the eighth inning with an unearned run. South Carolina brought in John Taylor out of the bullpen. Chris Taylor (So., Virginia Beach, Va.) reached first base when Morales’ throw to first went high and wide and Walker couldn’t make the tag on a sliding Taylor. Barr sacrificed Taylor over to second base. South Carolina went to the bullpen and brought in Price, its closer. On the fourth pitch to John Hicks (Jr., Sandy Hook, Va.), the UVa catcher hit a sharp ball to shortstop. The ball went though his legs of Peter Mooney and Taylor scored easily on the error, knotting the game at 2-2.
UVa left two runners on in the ninth and 12th innings and left the bases loaded in the 10th. The Cavaliers’ best scoring opportunity came in the top of the 13th when they loaded the bases with none out, but Price rebounded to strike out Taylor before Barr hit a line drive to Wingo at second, who then flipped to Mooney to complete a double play – the fourth UVa double play of the evening.
In the bottom of the 13th, Brady Thomas led off with a single. Mooney laid down a sacrifice bunt, and an errant Winiarski throw to second allowed Thomas to reach safely. Robert Beary then put down a sacrifice bunt and the pitcher’s throw to third was errant and bounced into the camera well, allowing Thomas to come home with the winning run.