OMAHA, Neb. – The 2014 College World Series is ensuring that fans are nothing if not entertained. For the fourth time in eight games, a team won in its final at-bat, as No. 3 Virginia walked off over No. 7 TCU, 3-2, in 15 innings.
The game matched the longest at the CWS and was the first since Southern California knocked off Florida State, 2-1, in the 1970 championship game. At four hours, fifty-one minutes, it was the fourth- longest in tournament history.
The victory was the second consecutive walk-off win for Virginia (51-14) at the CWS, while the loss dropped TCU (48-17) to 5-2 in one-run games this postseason.
Virginia capitalized on its lone scoring chance of extra innings. Facing off against Trey Teakell (6-1), who had not allowed a run over his previous 23 2/3 innings of work, catcher Nick Irving hit a ground-rule double over Boomer White’s head in left to lead off the 15th.
The Cavaliers rolled the lineup over to Brandon Cogswell, who sacrificed pinch-runner Thomas Woodruff to third. Daniel Pinero fouled off two squeeze attempts before lofting a fly ball to Cody Jones in center, deep enough to bring Woodruff home with the game-winning run.
Both bullpens dominated after starters Brandon Finnegan and Brandon Waddell were removed. Virginia’s Nick Howard was the first out of the pen and struck out six in four innings, both season highs.
Whit Mayberry worked around potential trouble in the 12th in tossing two scoreless innings before Alan Lewicki (8-1) collected his second win in as many CWS games.
TCU’s bullpen came into the evening having allowed just three runs in 30 innings of work in the NCAA Tournament, helping the Horned Frogs win games in the 22nd and 11th innings earlier in the postseason.
Likewise, TCU turned to its closer first, calling on Riley Farrell to start the ninth. Farrell fanned four, matching his season high with four innings of work.
Teakell entered to start the 13th and cruised through his first two innings of work before running into trouble.
Neither Finnegan nor Waddell would factor in the decisions despite strong efforts. Both pitchers would strengthen as their outings wore on, as Waddell retired 10 of the final 11 batters he faced, while Finnegan set down 11 of his final 14.
Waddell would go seven innings, striking out five, allowing five hits and giving up two runs in 101 pitches.
Finnegan would last an inning longer, finishing with two runs, five strikeouts and nine hits in eight innings of work.
In the first matchup between the only two national seeds at the CWS, Virginia struck first, as Cogswell drilled Finnegan’s first pitch of the night to the right field fence for a leadoff double. Pinero skied a fly to right, and Dylan Fitzgerald’s throw to third escaped Derek Odell, allowing an advancing Cogswell to come around and score.
TCU would respond immediately, getting some help from Virginia in the process. Garrett Crain started the second with single to center and scooted to third on Jerrick Suiter’s opposite-field single, putting runners at the corners.
Fitzgerald would go the opposite way as well, lining a single to left to tie the game. After a sacrifice advanced both runners 90 feet, Waddell struck out Kyle Bacak for the second out of the inning. Cody Jones then hit a bounding ball to Pinero at short, but the ball caromed off Pinero’s glove for an error as Suiter scored the Horned Frogs’ second run of the inning.
Virginia, which put runners on base in eight of the first nine innings, finally tied the game in the fifth. Cogswell again played the catalyst, doubling to left-center to start the frame. After Pinero sacrificed, Mike Papi hit a roller to second to bring Cogswell home.
TCU cut down the potential go-ahead run to end the eighth. With Kevin Towns on second and two outs, Derek Fisher grounded to short. Keaton Jones’ throw pulled first baseman Kevin Cron off the bag, but Cron alertly threw home, where Towns was caught in a rundown.
After chasing Towns towards third, Bacak threw to Odell at third, prompting Towns to head towards the plate. Odell’s throw deflected off of Finnegan, but was snatched by Cron, who was standing at the plate to tag Towns. The 3-2-5-1-3 putout helped set the stage for the first extra-inning game at the CWS since Arizona knocked off Florida State, 4-3, in 12 innings on June 15, 2012.
With 23 putouts, Cron broke the CWS record, previously set by Doug Mirabelli of Wichita State on June 3, 1991, in a 12-inning game.
Both of Tuesday’s games ended in walk-off fashion, the first time it happened at the CWS since June 21, 2005.
TCU will play Ole Miss in an elimination game on Thursday at 7 p.m. CDT. Virginia will await the winner, with the teams playing on Friday at 8 p.m. CDT.
Be sure to check out our other coverage from Virginia’s walk-off victory in the 15th inning: