June 6, 2009

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Cavaliers Rally Past Rebels, Force Game 3

By Jimmy Jones

Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com


Jimmy Jones is the world’s greatest baseball fan cleverly disguised as a proud father of five beautiful children. He loves to write about the sport, but it is his action photography that has earned him numerous awards. He has contributed to CollegeBaseballIinsider.com for the past few seasons.


OXFORD, Miss. - Virginia witnessed the dramatics of a come-from-behind-win up close and personal in the first game of the Oxford Super Regional, and the Cavaliers didn’t like it.
They did something about it on Saturday with a rousing two-run rally in the eighth inning to post a 4-3 win over the Ole Miss Rebels and overcome a masterful pitching performance by sophomore sensation Drew Pomeranz (right) to force a do-or-die game on Sunday on the road to Omaha.
"It was just another great college baseball game," Virginia coach Brian O'Connor said. “Pomeranz is as good as any pitcher we have seen all year. I couldn't be more proud of our club for fighting the whole game and get his pitch count up and get him out of the game.
"Now it comes down to a clutch play or clutch hit tomorrow."
Ole Miss All-SEC first-team selection Jordan Henry set the pace early for his team with a ball that just landed over the glove of Virginia shortstop Tyler Cannon in short left field for a double in the top of the first. Henry's hit was the 58th time in 61 games that he has reached base for the Rebels (44-20).
Henry's hit was safe by a matter of inches, but the ball that Logan Power (left) hit on the very next pitch could be measured in feet, as well as decibels, after it cleared the left-field bleachers, setting the capacity crowd into a frenzy and giving his team an early 2-0 lead after trailing for most of the first game on Friday.
Power was instrumental in the Rebels’ first game win as well, with a clutch ninth-inning RBI to tie the game. It was the 178th of his career to extend his school record.
Pomeranz cruised through the Cavaliers (48-13-1) in the first two innings, allowing only one hit while striking out three before running into trouble in the third.
John Barr, the 9-hitter, drew a walk and stole second on a 1-0 count. After Pomeranz struck out Jarrett Parker, who had two hits in the first game and was in the midst of a 13-game hitting streak, Cannon finished off an excellent at-bat against the left-hander with a RBI single through the middle of the diamond on a 3-2 count to plate Barr to make the score 2-1.
Virginia starter Robert Morey (right) settled in nicely after his rough first inning and retired the Rebels (44-20) with no hits or runs through the fourth, when his offense tied it up at 2.
ACC Freshman of the Year Danny Hultzen got things started for Virginia with a base hit and scored on a two-out double down the right field line by Barr.
Morey lost cruise control in the fifth when he walked the first two Rebels he faced in Matt Snyder and Matt Smith, prompting his replacement by right-hander Andrew Carraway, scheduled to be the Sunday starter in an ‘if-necessary’ game.
"I talked with the coaches last night and they told me to be ready today," Carraway said. "If we don't win today then there is no tomorrow. I will be ready to go tomorrow if needed."
Kyle Henson greeted Carraway with a RBI single to break the tie, but the Rebels squandered an opportunity for a big inning when Smith tried to advance to third on the throw to the catcher and was tagged out for his efforts.
Carraway then threw the pitcher’s best friend with a 6-4-3 double-play ball off the bat of David Phillips to end the threat and the inning with minimal damage done.
Disaster struck in the eighth for the Rebels with David Goforth on in relief of Pomeranz, who departed after throwing 140 pitches. With one out, Goforth got an easy grounder to second baseman Evan Button who picked it up cleanly, hesitated and then threw wildly to first allowing Hultzen to reach.
"It was a hard-hit ball that 99 times out of a 100 I make,” Button said. “I wish I could have it back, but we just have to flush it and get ready for tomorrow."
Virginia, which lost a 3-2 lead Friday in part because of an error at second to lead off the ninth, made the most of the opportunity, scoring on a hit by Steven Proscia to score Hultzen, who had stolen second, and adding another on a grounder by Barr, who beat the return throw to first to allow the go-ahead run to score.
"Another great baseball game," Rebels coach Mike Bianco said. "Drew pitched a heck of a game, unfortunately we just couldn't close it out.
"I thought we put the barrel on the ball often enough, and I want to be sure and give those guys credit, but we hit the ball hard, just right at some people.
"They made one more play than we did today. That's the bottom line."
Nathan Baker will pitch for the Rebels in Game 3. Virginia hasn’t announced its starter. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday.


(photos by Jimmy Jones)