CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Chris Taylor hit a two-run single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning Monday, lifting Virginia to a dramatic 3-2 victory against UC Irvine and back into the College World Series.
The Cavaliers (54-10) were down to their last out against Anteaters ace Matt Summers, making his first relief appearance of the season, when David Coleman singled to center, Jared King singled off Summers‘ leg and pinch-hitter Reed Gragnani drew a walk to load the bases.
Only moments earlier, UC Irvine (43-18) seemed likely to send the Cavaliers, the national No. 1 seed, home for the second straight season as losers in a Charlottesville Super Regional.
UC Irvine scored in the top of the ninth with some uncharacteristic help from the Cavaliers. The run scored after a single and sacrifice attempt that catcher John Hicks threw away trying to get a force out at second base, allowing Sean Madigan to get to third with no outs.
He came home when Drew Hillman grounded into a double play, the Cavaliers oddly conceding the run even though they had been baffled all day by the Anteaters’ bullpen. Their only run before the ninth came in the sixth on Kenny Swab’s first home run of the season.
The Anteaters got another stellar relief effort from a freshman, this time 4 1/3 innings from Jimmy Litchfield, who came on in the fourth, but UC Irvine coach Mike Gillespie brought Summers on after a one-out single in the eighth. It was Summers‘ first relief appearance of the saeason, but seemed to work as he got a double-play grounder to finish off the inning.
Brendan Kline (4-1) earned the victory after being in line to suffer the loss.
Before the ninth, it was all pitching and defense.
Virginia starter Will Roberts cruised into the eighth, never having allowed two baserunners in the same inning, but was removed after Reyes doubled to right-center with one out. Reyes might have been held to a single, but center fielder Swab overran it and slipped as Reyes took second.
Coach Brian O’Connor turned to Kline, who took the loss on Sunday, and he was sharp. He got Ronnie Shaeffer to pop out to third baseman Steve Proscia, and D.J. Crumlich to fly to right.
The Anteaters went ahead in the fourth after Crumlich doubled into the left-field corner leading off. Madigan sacrificed, and Crumlich scored on Brian Hernandez’s hopper to second.
By Douglas Holtz-Eakin
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