UVa. wins NCAA opener
The Virginia Cavaliers (39-17-1) used a three-run double by Branden Cogswell in the bottom of the sixth inning to separate itself in a 9-1 victory over the Army Black Knights (41-14) in the first game of the 2012 NCAA Charlottesville Regional, in front of 3,954 fans at Davenport Field.
Virginia advances to the winner’s bracket and returns to action at 3 p.m. on Sunday versus Appalachian State, a 5-4 winner over Oklahoma Saturday evening. Army falls into the loser’s bracket and will face Oklahoma at 11 a.m.
Game one of the Charlottesville NCAA Regional lasted only 13 minutes long on Friday morning before extreme weather and rain sent the contest into a 25 hour and 17 minute delay. When play resumed, UVa found itself batting in the bottom of the first inning with a runner on first and nobody out. The Cavaliers managed to place runners on second and third, but Army starting pitcher Chris Rowley was able to entice Jared King to fly out to right field to end the threat.
The Black Knights almost made an error by UVa shortstop Chris Taylor costly in the top of the second frame. With two outs, UVa starter Branden Kline induced Matthew Carter into a bounding ground ball and Taylor fumbled the transfer on the throw to first, with the runner just beating the throw. Army’s Alex Jenson promptly followed with a double down the left field line, but as Carter tried to score from first, the relay from Derek Fisher to Taylor to catcher Nate Irving ended Army’s quest for the game’s first run.
Virginia dented the scoreboard for three runs in the home half of the second inning on two hits. With one out Brandon Downes doubled down the left field to start the rally and Irving followed by reaching base when a pitch hit him. After Keith Werman flew out to center field for the second out, both runners advanced a station on a wild pitch. Taylor walked to load the bases and the first run was plated when Rowley hit his second batter of the inning, tagging Cogswell with the 1-0 offering. Stephen Bruno ripped a 3-0 pitch into centerfield to score Downes and Irving.
Neither team managed any runs in the third, fourth or fifth innings and then Army pushed its first run across in the top of the sixth. Zach Price led the inning off with a double to left-center field and advanced to third on a wild pitch. With one out, Kevin McKague topped a ball that died on the infield grass in front of the picther’s mound. Kline recorded the out on the throw to first as Price broke for home. King’s throw from first was wide, allowing the run to score and cut the Virginia lead to two runs, 3-1. Kline then yielded a single to Mark McCrants and walked JT Watkins. UVa head coach Brian O’Connor followed by going to the bullpen and brought Kyle Crockett in to face Harold Earls. Crockett quickly struck Earls out to end the threat.
The Cavaliers quickly answered the Black Knights in the bottom of the sixth inning, tallying three runs to take the 6-1 lead. Colin Harrington started things when he was hit by Rowley’s 1-0 offering. Harrington advanced to third when Downes singled down the left field line. Downes made his way to second when Irving grounded out to third base, while Harrington stayed put. Werman induced a walk to load the bases and it appeared that Rowley was going to get out of the jam when he struck Taylor out swinging for the innings second out. But Cogswell ripped the first pitch he saw deep into the right-center field gap to empty the bases and increase the UVa lead up to five runs.
Virginia added three more runs in the bottom frame of the eighth to take a 9-1 advantage, highlighted by Bruno’s RBI double. Austin Young pitched scoreless eighth and ninth inning to secure the victory. The contest lasted 3:02, but didn’t finish until 28 hours and 51 minutes after the game’s first pitch due to Friday’s weather delay.
Kline picked up the victory for the Cavaliers to improve his record to 7-3, while Rowley was credited with his first loss of the season and falls to 11-1.
Cogswell led UVa with four RBI, while Bruno drove in three runs. Bruno and Downes teamed up with three hits apiece, accounting for six of the Cavaliers’ eight hits against Army.
Price, McCants and Alex Jensen each had two hits apiece to pace the Black Knights in the losing effort. Price extended his team-best hitting streak to eight games.