June 9, 2014
Cavs Take Down Terps,
Earn Return Trip to Omaha
By Phil Stanton
- The first inning of Game 3 was the key in determining the
winner of the Charlottesville Super Regional.
Virginia sophomore right-hander Josh Sborz worked
out of a jam in the top of the inning, and the Cavaliers plated
three with two away in the bottom of the frame on their way to
an 11-2 victory over Maryland to advance to the College World
Series for the third time in program history.
The Cavaliers (49-14) also reached Omaha in 2009
and 2011. Virginia, the No. 3 national seed, will face Ole Miss
on Sunday, June 15 at 7 p.m. CT at TD Ameritrade Park.
“Not too many teams get the opportunity to start
the season out as the No. 1 team in the country and then put
yourself in the position where you’re one game away from Omaha
to advance,” Virginia coach Brian O’Connor said. “I’m just so
proud of this team because I think they handled the expectations
prior to the season about as good as any club can.”
Sborz (5-4) walked Charles
White (2 for 4) to lead off the game, and White was quickly
sacrificed to second. A free pass to Brandon Lowe gave the
Terrapins (40-23) two on with one away. Sborz enticed Jose Cuas
to ground sharply to Daniel Pinero at short, who started an
inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Momentum swung to the home dugout, and the
offense took advantage. Pinero (2 for 3, 3 R, 2 RBI) was plunked
with one away and moved to second one out later as Joe McCarthy
(2 for 5, 2 R) singled off pitcher Bobby Ruse. Derek Fisher
delivered a base hit to center to bring home Pinero with the
game’s first run. Kenny Towns (3 for 4, 4 RBI) then crushed a
ball off the wall in left for a triple, plating McCarthy and
Fisher to push the lead to 3-0.
That would be all the support Sborz would need.
He tossed seven scoreless innings, matching his longest career
stint, surrendered four hits (all singles) and struck out nine.
He walked just one over his final six frames.
“I took the game one inning at a time,” Sborz
said. “I took it as a reliever, just getting one inning done and
then thinking about the next. I really only had two pitches
today. I was keeping the ball down most of the time and I had a
good defense behind me. So it was pretty easy to attack and let
them hit the ball.”
It was the first start for Sborz since May 10 and
first appearance since May 24.
“That guy has really electric stuff,” O’Connor
said of Sborz. “After he settled down after the first inning he
was absolutely in control for seven innings. Josh hadn’t started
in three weeks and hadn’t really pitched much at all in three
weeks. When his team needed him the most, he stepped up and was
absolutely dominant for seven innings.”
When Sborz remained in the dugout in the top of
the eighth, the sellout crowd of 5,001 gave him a long standing
ovation, prompting a reluctant curtain call.
“The entire time, I was refusing to go out,”
Sborz said. “After about a minute of them clapping I figured I
just had to go out on a limb. It felt amazing. I’ve never had a
better experience like that ever.”
Sborz helped himself
defensively in the fourth. Maryland used a pair of singles and a
groundout to put two in scoring position with two away. Anthony
Papio hit a grounder to Branden Cogswell in the hole at second.
First baseman Mike Papi moved toward the ball and could not have
retreated to first to take the throw. Sborz covered the bag at
first and flawlessly took the throw from Cogswell to keep the
Terps off the scoreboard.
The Cavaliers doubled their lead in the third as
Towns ripped a two-run single to left with one away and Brandon
Downes (2 for 4) delivered a run-scoring base-hit to make it a
“I was put in some good situations for hitting,”
Towns said. “I wasn’t trying to do too much. I just got some
good pitches to hit and was able to barrel a couple balls.”
Maryland finally got on the board in the eighth
as Blake Schmit (2 for 4) laced a two-run double down the
left-field line to make it a 6-2 contest. Closer Nick Howard was
summoned and got an inning-ending groundout to short on one
pitch, with Papi making a nice scoop at first to record the out.
Virginia had one more outburst with the bats in
the bottom of the eighth. Cogswell had a two-run single to left,
Pinero drove in two with a double to right and Papi plated
Pinero with a two-bagger, the team’s 13th hit, to put the game
out of reach at 11-2.
“In this ballgame, certainly our offensive output
was outstanding,” O’Connor said. “Much was made of our offensive
ball club before this season started. There were some games
where it didn’t go so well and it wasn’t easy, and we won a lot
of close ballgames. Certainly the last two weeks, this offensive
team showed what it was capable of doing.”
Howard worked a scoreless ninth, fanning the
final Terrapin hitter to ignite the on-field celebration.
“I think this is a team that is built to win in
Omaha,” O’Connor said, “and I think they understand what it
takes to be very successful there. They will be focused. They’ll
enjoy this victory tonight certainly, but tomorrow we’ll turn
our attention to our next opponent. I think in all phases of the
game, this team is pretty special. I’m excited to see them go
out to Omaha and compete for a national championship.”
Virginia will make its third trip to Omaha in the
past six seasons.
“You’ve got to realize what we ran into tonight,”
Maryland coach John Szefc said. “[Virginia] is by far the most
talented team we’ve played all year. Not even close. Sborz could
be a No. 1 starter for a lot of teams. We ran into what very
well could be the national champion at home in their park. I
haven’t seen a team like this in 13 years.”
When Kenny Towns doubled off the wall in left
to drive in two in the bottom of the first, Maryland left
fielder Tim Lewis made a valiant attempt to catch the drive.
He crashed into the wall and his glove came off his hand,
falling behind the wall. There was a slight delay as the glove
Virginia’s hitters were dialed in throughout
their three-game Super Regional set with Maryland. The
Cavaliers batted .348 and averaged 13 hits per game. UVa drew
12 walks, was hit by seven pitches and struck out just nine
The Cavaliers’ hitters were repeatedly sending
balls back up the middle. They had nine flyouts to center
field. Three balls hit off the Maryland starting pitcher,
Bobby Ruse.Two of those went for infield singles and one
started a 1-4-3 groundout.
During Virginia’s final offensive rally in the
bottom of the eighth, Cavalier fans began chanting ‘A-C-C,
A-C-C.’ Maryland is leaving the conference and joining the Big
Ten for the upcoming school year.
Maryland finished the season with a
program-record 40 wins.