OMAHA, Neb. – With a walk-off RBI double, Mike Papi lifted Virginia over Ole Miss 2-1 in the opening round of the 2014 Men’s College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.
With the score tied at 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Nate Irving led off with a walk. Branden Cogswell bunted him into scoring position with a sacrifice, but Daniel Pinero struck out for the second out. With a full count, Papi drove the ball deep into right center, scoring Irving to end the game.
It was Papi’s second career walk-off hit and a fitting end to UVa’s first CWS game since losing on a walk-off error in 2011.
Reliever Artie Lewicki (7-1) picked up the win for Virginia, retiring all six batters he faced and striking out one.
In what has become a tradition for the CWS at TD Ameritrade Park, the game was showcase of pitching and defense. In nine innings, Virginia faced just three batters over the minimum. All three were walks. Together, Lewicki and starter Nathan Kirby gave up one hit, combining for the first CWS one-hitter since 1983.
Kirby finished seven innings plus two batters with one run on one hit, struck out three and walked four.
Virginia clung to a 1-0 lead until Ole Miss tied it up in the top of the eighth. Sikes Orvis and Colby Bortles led the inning off with a pair of walks, chasing Kirby out of the game. Errol Robinson sacrificed the runners to second and third, and Preston Overbey’s groundout to short drove Orvis home.
Aaron Greenwood (3-2) took the loss for the Rebels, allowing one run on one hit in his 1.2 innings. Starter Chris Ellis went six innings, giving up six hits but allowing just one run to score.
The Cavaliers first got on the board in the fifth inning. Irving and Cogswell started the rally with a pair of singles, but Pinero hit a line drive at the second baseman, who threw to first for the double play. Ole Miss intentionally walked Papi, and Joe McCarthy drove an RBI single into center field to plate Irving.
UVa threatened to tack on a couple of insurance runs in the seventh, when Pinero reached on a fielder’s choice and Papi hit an infield single. With two outs, Derek Fisher hit a ball deep to center. Ole Miss’s Auston Bousfield made a spectacular sprinting catch to end the rally.
-In all, Virginia left 11 runners on base in the game.
-Shortstop Errol Robinson got Ole Miss’s only hit in the third inning with a line drive up the middle, but he was caught in a rundown while trying to steal second. The Rebels didn’t have another baserunner until Overbey walked in the sixth.
-Virginia moves on to face (7) TCU in the winner’s bracket on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Central.
-Ole Miss faces elimination against Texas Tech at 2 p.m. on Tuesday.
Tonight’s contest marked the seventh time the two schools have met … UVa holds a 5-2 all-time advantage …
• In 2009, UVa won two of three games against the Rebels in Oxford to win the Super Regional and advance to its first-ever CWS … Virginia topped Ole Miss 13-7 in 2010 in the Charlottesville Regional …
• Ole Miss had to go through Virginia in 1972 in their last trip to the CWS … After dropping a 9-3 contest to UVa, Ole Miss topped the Cavaliers 9-0 to advance …
• Tonight marked the second time since the opening of TD Ameritrade in 2011 where an ACC and an SEC team squared off in the opening round (last: Vanderbilt defeated North Carolina, 7-3) …
• The overall record between the SEC and ACC in the CWS has the SEC with a 16-10 advantage … The last time both conferences faced off was last year when North Carolina eliminating LSU, 4-2 …
• The last time an ACC school went 3-0 to reach the CWS Finals was back in 2006 with North Carolina … Most recently in 2013 Mississippi State was the last SEC school to reach the CWS Finals winning all three of their contest (3-0) …
• UVa is 4-4 in CWS games (1-2 in 2009, 2-2 in 2011, 1-0 in 2014) … Ole Miss falls to 3-9 all-time in the CWS (2-2 in 1956, 0-2 in 1964, 1-2 in 1969, 0-2 in 1972, 0-1 in 2014)…
• Prior to UVa’s one-hitter tonight against Ole Miss, there had only been three one-hitters dating back to the start of the aluminum bats (1974) in the CWS leading up to tonight … Previous were Michigan in 1978 (Steve Howe, CG against Baylor on June 2), Arizona State in 1983 (Doug Henry, CG against Maine on June 4) and Alabama in 1983 (Allen Dunn, 4.1 and Tim Meachem, 4.2 against Arizona State on June 10) …
• UVa’s walk-off win (Mike Papi RBI double in 9th) is the first since South Carolina walked off with a win over Virginia on June 24, 2011 in 13 innings (2-1) …
• First game since June 19, 2013 in which neither team committed an error (last was Oregon State vs. Indiana …
• Today’s session (Games 3 and 4) mark the first time since June 14, 2009 that both games were won on the team’s final at-bat on the same day (TCU scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth to win 3-2 over Texas Tech, UVa scored one run in the bottom of the ninth to top Ole Miss, 2-1) …
• The walk-off win was the first for Virginia since May 10, 2014, against Georgia Tech (4-3 in 11 innings) … Mike Papi recorded his second career walk-off hit tonight (two-run walk-off single In 11th inning to beat William and Mary, 6-5, on Feb. 21, 2012) …
• Virginia is 2-1 in CWS openers (2009 – lost to LSU, 9-5; 2011 – defeated California, 4-1; 2014 – defeated Ole Miss, 2-1) …
• Virginia’s 50 wins are tied for the fourth-most in program history (56/2011, 51/2010, 50/2013-14, 49/2009) …
• Virginia is making its third appearance in the College World Series (2009, 2011) …
• Virginia is 4-4 all-time at the CWS (2009 – went 1-2, 2011 – went 2-2, 2014 – currently 1-0) …
• Virginia is hitting .309 in seven NCAA Tournament games …
• UVa hit .277 in the regular season (Mike Papi/.483/14-for-29, John La Prise/.357/10-for-28, Kenny Towns/.387/ 12-for-31, Brandon Downes/.308/8-for-26) …
• Virginia has allowed three or fewer runs in six of seven games in the NCAA Tournament …
• Virginia is now 15-7 in one-run games in 2014 …
• Virginia is now 9-1 this season when tied after 8 innings …
• Virginia is now 5-8 this season when scoring two or fewer runs in a game …
• With 11 men left on base, Virginia had its 25th game this season finishing with 10 or more runners left on … UVa was 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position following Mike Papi’s walk-off double…
• Four of Virginia’s six NCAA Tournament wins have come by four or more runs …
• Virginia’s bullpen has allowed just three earned runs and two walks in 18 innings of work in the NCAA Tournament … Artie Lewicki tossed two scoreless innings in relief tonight …
• Nathan Kirby allowed just one hit over 7-plus innings of work, the fourth time this season Kirby allowed one or fewer hits in a game … Tossed his 15th quality start in 17 outings … Faced the minimum number of batters through 5 innings … Threw first-pitch strikes to 15 of 24 batters faced …
Mike Papi recorded his 21st multi-hit game of the season, going 2-for-4 … Papi has reached base in 18 consecutive games … 55 RBI now leads the ACC … Extended his school record with his 56th walk of the season…
• Branden Cogswell extended his on-base streak to seven games with a first inning walk … Hitting streak is now at seven games following his single in the fifth …
• Kenny Towns pushed his on-base streak to 21 consecutive games with a single in the fourth inning … 2-for-3 effort was his 12th multi-hit game of the year … Double in the sixth inning was the first extra-base hit of the game
• Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor is a native of Omaha and grew up in Council Bluffs, Iowa … Played collegiately at Creighton and was part of Bluejays’ 1991 CWS team
QUOTES FROM POST GAME NEWS CONFERENCE:
COACH BRIAN O'CONNOR
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Virginia.
COACH O'CONNOR: Wow, what a college baseball game. Ole Miss has a terrific ballclub. Ellis did a great job in a start with them. I was just really proud of our club in all areas. I thought our pitching was outstanding. I thought Nathan Kirby was really tremendous tonight. Certainly in the eighth inning those couple of walks, I'm sure he probably would want those back but he did a great job of getting us to the eighth inning and Artie Lewicki came in and was really good and gave us a chance to win.
Throughout the ballgame certainly we had a lot of opportunities. We had seven hits. I don't know how many walks and hit batters we had. But we kept getting opportunities and just couldn't get that big hit to tack on some more runs.
But I guess we saved it for the dramatic there at the ninth, Irving drawing the walk and Papi getting the big clutch two-out, two-strike hit.
I'm happy that we're 1-0 and moving on. I'm really proud of our club because I thought we played really great baseball in all areas of the game, defensively, pitching and offensively and we'll be looking forward to Tuesday night.
Q. Mike, could you talk about the pitch and what your thinking was going up to the plate, what were you concentrating on?
MIKE PAPI: I had a couple of other opportunities earlier in the game to draw some guys in, I wasn't able to. Going up there in the bottom of the ninth I was looking for a pitch in the middle of the plate something I could cut in half and line to the out field somewhere.
Q. Nathan, speak a little bit about just kind of your performance, seemed pretty locked in obviously for six innings. Anything change much in that seventh or eighth when Nick got a little rattled and just how you think you did overall today?
NATHAN KIRBY: My plan was just to make them beat me. And I thought I did a good job in that. There in the eighth I missed a couple pitches and you can't do that.
Q. Nathan, last week kind of came out and they hit you right away in the first inning, didn't seem like you ever got into a rhythm. How important was it today to get off to that strong start and did you feel completely different today from last week?
NATHAN KIRBY: Yeah, last week I left a bunch of pitches up and they made me pay for it. This week I just wanted to completely turn the page and get out there and attack and force them to beat me and fortunately for me it went my way.
Q. Artie, second week in a row gotta come in in a similar situation. How much are you embracing this role and was this a little different than last week, just kind of compare the two?
ARTIE LEWICKI: Like you said, second week in a row. But it's a different experience coming out of the pen for sure especially when you're accustomed to starting. At this point you do whatever you have to do to win ballgames. And coach is going to send me out there I'm going to try to go out do my best and try to collect outs and throw strikes.
Q. Mike, could you just I think you guys
have left like 67 guys on base in seven
postseason games. Is there anything you guys
can do to change your approach or is it just
luck, is it just bad luck at this point?
MIKE PAPI: I mean, I wouldn't consider it
bad luck. I mean, we just have to simplify our
approach and just use our experience to our
advantage and go into the box and just know that
everyone has complete trust and faith in everyone
or the hitter in the box that's going to get it done.
Q. Mike, talk about what Chris was able
to do to limit you when you had base runners
on, like to get out of innings some of the things
he might have been throwing?
MIKE PAPI: Chris did a phenomenal job
today. So did our pitchers. But they were very
good with runners in scoring position. They started
hard. They started soft. They mixed it up. They
pitched backwards a little bit and they hit their
spots and they were done and when you do that
you're going to get people to get under the ball or I
mean not get quality contact. And that's what they
Q. Mike, getting back to the hit there at
the end, not a whole lot of balls go over
people's heads here. Did you think when you
hit it that it was over his head?
MIKE PAPI: I know when I got it, I got it
probably as well as I could have. But I was just
hoping and praying it was going to fall somewhere
out there in this cavernous park.
Q. Mike, you've been part of a lot of
clutch situations in your career. You've come
through. Do you think that experience helped
you in a situation like that, where this is
obviously the biggest stage you've ever been
in that spot on?
MIKE PAPI: Right. Overall I'm just looking
out and playing for the guys next to me. I'm going
up there in the box. I'm trying to do everything I
can to get the job done. When we have two guys
like Artie and Nathan who do a fantastic job and
only give up one hit one game. I mean our offense
really needs to put it together and get more runs,
run support up there for them.
Q. Mike, you've had a lot of big hits
over the course of your career. But the
emotion of this one at the College World Series
the walk off, getting swarmed how did that
compare, can you describe that sensation?
MIKE PAPI: I mean, simply every walk-off
is awesome. It's speechless. You don't know what
to say. But having it done in the College World
Series makes it even that much better.
Q. Coach, could you talk about the
decision of putting Irving back into the starting
lineup and the job he did tonight?
COACH O'CONNOR: Well, I thought Nate
Irving was really good tonight. I thought he
handled Kirby really well. And obviously Artie, too.
Nate Irving has caught Kirby all year long. So
there really wasn't a decision, quite frankly. I did
start Robby Coleman the last two ballgames, just
on a really gut feel of something that I wanted to
do. But this ballclub has a tremendous confidence
in Nate Irving. And I thought he went up there had
some real quality at-bats for us and obviously the
walk he drew in the ninth was the game-winner.
But he's a great player and we'll continue to assess
it as we go from game to game what we're going to
Q. You get a win to open this thing up.
Obviously the path is still not going to be easy
but what does it do to get that first win, how
does that set your path up for the rest of the
COACH O'CONNOR: Well, good. One I'd
tell you that only using two pitchers is a plus. But
this tournament's so different than anything we
play in. Anybody plays in all year long because of
the days off. And what you potentially can do with
your relief pitching but certainly winning is better
than losing, and I'd rather be in that 1-0 game
Tuesday night because it puts you in a great
position if you can win the next ballgame, the other
two clubs gotta fight it out a little bit to see who you
meet to go to the title. So certainly I think it's big
Q. Brian, what were your emotions like
during that ninth inning and during Mike's
at-bat, what was it like for you in the dugout?
COACH O'CONNOR: Pretty calm and
confident, quite frankly. Kind of like these two guys
pitched all night with really a calmness and a
confidence and Mike Papi's certainly had a great
career here. He's gotten a lot of big clutch hits for
us. He's one in his career has performed in key moments for his team. So certainly a lot of confidence in our dugout for him.