Virginia beats TCU 3-2 in 15-inning national seed battle

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    Quick question.

    What do you get when the pitching is extremely good and the bats don’t have any power?

    You get the University of Virginia taking a 15-inning thriller away from TCU in a battle of the national seeds.

    At the end of the marathon, which was the longest College World Series game ever played by innings, TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle couldn’t be mad at his team.

    “It is hard to get upset at your guys after a game like that,” Schlossnagle said.

    Junior pitcher Brandon Finnegan allowed nine hits and two runs while the Frogs struck out a total of 15 times in the 3-2 loss.

    30 of the last 33 CWS champions have started the tournament with a 2-0 record. Vanderbilt and Virginia are now the only teams still holding that distinction.

    The Cavaliers struck in the first inning when Branden Cogswell advanced to third on a sacrifice fly and then got home on a throwing error.

    The purple and white wasted no time taking the lead back when they brought two runs home during the bottom of the second inning.

    Garrett Crain and Jerrick Suiter both crossed home plate for the Frogs bringing the score to 2-1. That score would hold until the bottom of the fifth inning.

    Cogswell, once again, crossed home plate for UVA when he made it home on a Mike Papi sacrifice grounder.

    With the game tied at two runs apiece, Virginia called on their closer Nick Howard to keep the Frogs at bay.

    Howard came into the game with an ERA of 1.99. He was the first round draft choice of the Cincinnati Reds with the 19th overall pick.

    TCU then called on its own star closer: sophomore Riley Ferrell.

    Ferrell, a lefty from College Station, Texas, entered the game with a 0.87 ERA and 15 saves.

    Both closers were as good as advertised and the fans were forced to get comfortable in their seats.

    With flashbacks of 22 innings against Sam Houston State running through the minds of many, some of the 24,285 fans in attendance started to head for the exits.

    In the 12th inning, the Cavaliers called on their bullpen again and brought in senior righty Whit Mayberry. Mayberry boasted a 1.59 ERA paired with 50 strikeouts and only 11 walks.

    In the 15th inning, Thomas Woodruff of UVA found himself on third base with one out.

    A sacrifice fly to centerfield by shortstop Daniel Pinero scored Woodruff and gave Virginia the win.

    Pinero, who had a pair of errors early on in the game, credited the win to the mentality of the entire Virginia team.

    “We grind as a team, and we were able to get out of there with a win,” he said.

    A total of 4 hours and 51 minutes and TCU was on the losing end of it all.

    After the game, Schlossnagle was not pleased with the lack of offense the College World Series is experiencing.

    “I think it is a travesty what has happened to college baseball,” he said. “It’s frustrating when you can’t get anything going because the ball just dies out there.”

    Junior first baseman Kevin Cron hit a pair of deep fliers in the game that looked to be home runs, but couldn’t get them past the outfield wall with the BBCOR bats.   

    With the loss, TCU faces Ole Miss Thursday at 8:00 p.m. in a must-win scenario. The loser of that matchup will be officially be eliminated from the College World Series.

    Virginia will play the winner of Thursday’s game on Friday night. A win would secure a spot in the CWS Finals for the Cavaliers while a loss would force another game on Saturday.

    Jordan Ray contributed to this story.