June 15, 2014


Papi's Pop Pushes Cavaliers Past Rebels

By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder

phil@collegebaseballinsider.com @RoadToOmaha


OMAHA, Neb. - Virginia saved the best for last.


Junior Mike Papi lined a double to deep right-center with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to plate pinch-runner Thomas Woodruff with the game-winner as the No. 3 Cavaliers edged Ole Miss 2-1 Sunday evening in front of 23,393 fans at TD Ameritrade Park.


Virginia (50-14) will meet No. 7 TCU on Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. CT. The Rebels (46-20) will face Texas Tech in an elimination game on Tuesday afternoon at 2 p.m. CT.


Junior catcher Nate Irving, who did not start the final two Super Regional games for Virginia against Maryland, drew a walk to begin the ninth against Ole Miss reliever Aaron Greenwood and was replaced at first by Woodruff. Leadoff hitter Branden Cogswell sacrificed Woodruff to second to put the potential winning run in scoring position. Following a strikeout, Papi drove the ball over the outfielders' heads in right center to drive in Woodruff with the game-winner.


"I had a couple of other opportunities earlier in the game to drive some guys in," Papi said, "I wasn't able to. I was looking for a pitch in the middle of the plate, something I could cut in half and line to the outfield somewhere."


Was there any thought given to having Greenwood walk Papi?


"He's been our guy," Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. "We were going to pitch him tough. He's really good, but you've got three left-handers in a row and [Joe] McCarthy right under him. We did that the last time and McCarthy was able to get a base hit."


The Cavaliers were 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position prior to Papi's game-ending shot.


"We kept getting opportunities," Virginia head coach Brian O'Connor said. "and just couldn't get that big hit to tack on some more runs. But I guess we saved it for the dramatic ninth."


Sophomore Nathan Kirby and senior Artie Lewicki combined on a one-hitter for the Cavaliers. Kirby worked seven innings and allowed one hit and one run with three walks and four strikeouts. Lewicki (7-1) retired all six batters he faced with one punchout to pick up the win.


"I thought our pitching was outstanding," O'Connor said. "I thought Nathan Kirby was really tremendous tonight. He did a great job of getting us to the eighth inning and Artie Lewicki cam in and was really good and gave us a chance to win."


The Cavaliers broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the fifth. Irving had a leadoff single to left and moved to second on a base hit by Cogswell. Daniel Pinero lined to second and Cogswell was doubled off first. Following an intentional walk to Papi, Joe McCarthy delivered an RBI single to center to plate Irving with the game's first run.


Virginia had a great chance to add to its lead in the seventh. Cogswell drew a leadoff walk and was forced out at second on a grounder by Pinero. Papi had an infield single to advance Pinero to second. Pinero moved to third on a flyout to center. Derek Fisher launched a ball to deep center. Auston Bousfield raced back and made a twisting over-the-shoulder catch to save at least two runs and end the rally.


The Rebels evened the score in the eighth. Kirby walked Sikes Orvis and Colby Bortles to start the inning and end his night. Lewicki took over and Errol Robinson sacrificed the runners to second and third for the first out. Pinch-hitter Holt Perdzock grounded out to short, driving in pinch-runner Cameron Dishon with the tying run. Another groundout to short ended the inning.


Lewicki retired the Rebels in order in the top of the ninth to give Virginia a chance to win it in its final at-bat.


"I thought they outplayed us tonight," Bianco said. "Not by much, but enough to make a difference, especially in this tight of a ballgame."


Chris Ellis delivered a strong start for Ole Miss. He scattered six hits in six innings with one run, four walks and three strikeouts.