OMAHA, Neb. – Fans were treated to a long and interesting Day 4 of the 2014 College World Series as Ole Miss staved off elimination with a 2-1 win over Texas Tech and Virginia downed TCU 3-2 in 15 innings at TD Ameritrade Park on Tuesday. The Rebels scored two unearned runs an won on a walk-off single by John Gatlin in Game 7. Game 8 would take extra innings to decide after Virginia and TCU traded unearned runs as the Cavaliers got a walk-off sac fly by Daniel Pinero for a 3-2 win.
Ole Miss advanced without scoring an earned run, hitting .161 against a Texas Tech pitching staff that was definitely “Guns Up” for the NCAA tournament with a combined tournament ERA of 0.76 and an opponent batting average of .172 with three shutouts. The Red Raiders were undone by their defense in Omaha which committed three errors in two games in the College World Series.
The Rebels advance but are still waiting for the offense to arrive averaging 1.5 runs per game with a .105 average (6-for-57) for the CWS. Pitching has been key as opponents are hitting only .238 against the Rebels’ staff which has posted a 1.53 ERA in Omaha. Things don’t get any easier for Ole Miss as it will now face the top ERA coming into the CWS with a match-up against TCU on Thursday night. The way this Series has played out it may be down to another walk-off as the Rebels have been both the victim and beneficiary in Omaha.
“I think we faced two very, very good pitchers who pitched well,” said Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco about the Rebels’ offensive woes in Omaha, “I think we’re better than what we’ve performed.”
Virginia is 2-0 with two walk-off wins to boot with Mike Papi delivering in its’ first win and then Pinero doing the honors in last night’s win after two-errors in the fielding. The Cavaliers are hitting .234 for the Series but are getting excellent pitching as opponents have hit .127 against them while Cavaliers’ staff has posted a 0.75 ERA.
“Wow, that was a heck of a baseball game! Both teams really fought and battled,” said Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor to open his statement about the 15-inning walk-off win, “I am just really proud of our guys…they’ve grinded all year and today was another great example of that.”
TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle thought it was a match-up of the best being the best, “Premium arms. It’s very impressive by Howard. Very impressive by Ferrell. Very impressive by Teakell. Very impressive by Lewicki.”
O’Connor added, “We threw everything we had at them — Howard and Mayberry and Lewicki.”
The Cavaliers were able to flip the script, having lost the previous longest game at TD Ameritrade Park in a 13-inning 3-2 defeat at the hands of South Carolina as the Gamecocks went on to win their second straight national title. The Cavaliers didn’t face elimination in the extra-inning affair this time but managed to turn the tables on TCU with the 3-2 win in 15 innings. Virginia hopes to repeat South Carolina’s feat of winning the longest game and then going on to win a national title.
The Horned Frogs’ staff has thrown a lot of innings in the tournament with a three (11, 22, 15) extra-inning games under their belt, yet the staff is holding well with a combined 1.48 ERA and an opponent average of .191. The Cavaliers 11 hits were the most allowed in a game by this staff in the entire tournament.
In 65 percent of the Horned Frogs’ games this season they have held their opponent to two runs or less which is 42 times out of 65 games played. The same has held true for the tournament with 5-of-8 opponents held to two runs or less. However, if Ole Miss were to score three runs on Thursday it would drop the mark to 55 percent. It will be interesting to see if the top ERA staff in Omaha can continue its amazing run against the top offense in Omaha with elimination on the line.