Freshmen Branden Cogswell and Brandon Downes combined to go 4-for-6, scoring two runs and adding four RBI and veteran Stephen Bruno added three hits and three RBI as top-seed Virginia (39-17-1) defeated No. 4 Army (41-14) 9-1 in game one of the 2012 Charlottesville Regional.
After playing for just 13 minutes Friday morning, the game resumed 25 hours and 17 minutes later in front of 3,954 Saturday afternoon. Both starters returned to the hill for today’s continuation. All-ACC pitcher Branden Kline claimed the win holding the Academy to one earned run over 5.2 innings. Virginia skipper Brian O’Connor said in his post game comments that he was pleased with Kline’s outing.
“I’m very proud of our club and really proud of Branden Kline,” said O’Connor. “What he did yesterday, starting a game and throwing an inning and then coming back today to give us five plus. I thought it was a great effort on his part.”
Dick Howser Award semifinalist Chris Rowley (11-1) lost for the first time this season. After the game Rowley said his performance was not up to the standards he’s accustomed to delivering.
“I think mentally I just didn’t prepare myself like I should have,” said Rowley. “When stuff like that happens, when five walks and five hit batsmen happens, looking back on what I’ve done this season to that point, that just doesn’t happen unless I’m not mentally engaged.”
Rowley entered the regional having tossed six complete games and five shutouts in 14 2012 starts. The junior righty went six complete surrendering six earned runs, matching his highest total of the season (6 ER vs. Lafayette in 7 innings). Rowley who struck out four and walked a season high five UVa batters says the walks and hit batsmen opened the door for the hosts.
“I let me teammates down a little bit and I think I let Virginia expand on that lead a little bit,” Rowley added. “If you take away the free passes [in the sixth inning] I think we had a pretty good game. We hit the ball pretty well, we fielded well and I throw strikes and the other pitchers throw strikes I think we had a pretty good ball game.”
While not great, Kline (7-3) was certainly effective in his 5.2 innings of work scattering six hits, walking a batter and fanning five. Kline, who served in the closing role for Virginia last season says he “ tried to treat to it like a bullpen session, what happened yesterday,” noted Kline. “I threw like 20 pitches and I tried to take the positives from that and attack the zone . They got a bunch of good swings off me but my defense back there to pick me up and not let any balls get through.”
Virginia got on the board first in the bottom half of the second but it should have been more. Colin Harrington worked a lead-off walk to start the frame but was erased trying to steal second. Harrington would have likely scored when Brandon Downes double down the left field line in the next at-bat. With two outs catcher Nate Irving reached when he was hit by a pitch and advance a base along with Downes on a wild pitch to put two runners in scoring position. Chris Taylor walked to load the bases and Virginia plated its first run of the regional on Branden Cogs well’s RBI hit-by-pitch. That brought Stephen Bruno to the plate who with a 3-0 green light laced Rowley’s offering into right field to score Irving and Taylor.
“It’s a great hitting position to be 3-0 with the bases loaded,” said Bruno. “I was just trying to be aggressive and put the ball in play and score some runs.”
Army scratched in top of sixth when Zach Price doubled to lead off the inning and advance to third on wild pitch. The Black Knight second baseman scored on Kevin McKague’s RBI swinging bunt. McKague was thrown out at first but Jared King’s throw to the plate went wide and Price scored.
The Cavaliers answered in the bottom of the frame as Harrington became the fourth UVa batter Rowley hit and then advance to third on Brandon Downes single off a hit-and-run. With one out Keith Werman walked to load the bases but Chris Taylor was set down swinging for the second out. That created an RBI opportunity for freshman Branden Cogswell who promptly deposited Crowley’s first pitch into the right field gap to clear the bases with a 3-RBI double increasing Virginia’s lead to 6-1. The Cavaliers added three insurance runs in the bottom of the ninth for the 9-1 final.
Zach Price and Alex Jensen each collected a pair of hits for the Knights with Price scoring the loan Army run on a 2-for-4 afternoon.
Bruno, Cogswell and Downes led Virginia’s offensive attack combining for two runs scored, seven hits and seven RBI.
The Hoos will face the winner of the Saturday’s second game between No.2 Oklahoma and No.3 Appalachian State Sunday at 3:00 PM.