June 9, 2014


Cavs Take Down Terps, Earn Return Trip to Omaha

By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder

phil@collegebaseballinsider.com @RoadToOmaha


CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - 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 6-0 contest.


“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 was retrieved.

  • 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 times.

  • 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.