Heartbreak – Arkansas rallies, eliminates Cavs from CWS
Virginia had Arkansas down to its last strike, but it was the Razorbacks who ended up getting the last out.
A two-out, two-run homer by Brett Eibner tied the game at 3 in the top of the ninth, and an Andrew Darr double in the 12th plated the eventual winning run as Arkansas won an instant classic by a 4-3 final to stay alive in College World Series play.
The loss ends Virginia’s magical run at the World Series a game short of the national semifinals.
It had been UVa.’s game to win all night long on the strength of a solid outing by starting pitcher Danny Hultzen, who came back on three days’ rest after a subpar performance in the Series opener against LSU on Saturday to pitch six and a third innings without allowing an earned run.
The performance staked the Cavaliers to a 3-1 lead in the ninth when Virginia coach Brian O’Connor put the ball in the hands of closer Kevin Arico, who retired the first two Arkansas hitters in the top of the ninth and had a two-strike count on Zack Cox before Cox kept the game alive with a solid single to center. Eibner followed with a mammoth home run to left field to knot the game at 3, but Virginia still had a chance to win in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded and one out and Hultzen at bat. After taking a controversial called strike on a 3-0 pitch that appeared high and well outside, Hultzen grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end that rally.
The Cavs would get their leadoff hitter on and to third base with one out in each of the final four innings off Arkansas pitcher Dallas Keuchel (9-3), but Keuchel was able to get out of each of the jams that he created for himself without any damage.
The final out came on a strikeout of Virginia postseason hero Franco Valdes with Scott Proscia on third base.
Senior Andrew Carraway (9-2) took the tough-luck loss after allowing the run in the top of the 12th.
Virginia completes its 2009 season with a 49-15-1 record. The College World Series appearance was the program’s first.
Arkansas (41-23) will play LSU on Friday.
– Story by Chris Graham