T.A.H. Virginia Baseball Month came to conclusion when Arkansas eliminated the Wahoos late last night 4-3 in 12 innings in a game UVa simply should have won.
The game finally concluded almost two hours after it appeared it would. It could have ended with one more strike in the top of the ninth inning, or one more ball in the bottom of the ninth inning. But in the bottom of the 12th inning and with the game-tying run 90 feet away, Franco Valdes (pictured below) struck out to end Virginia's season in an elimination game in the College World Series.
Although several base running gaffes limited the Cavs 3-1 lead in the top of the ninth, Virginia closer Kevin Arico was one strike away from ending the game. Arico allowed a single, and three pitches later Brett Eibner tied the game with a towering home run.
The Razorbacks, who had come from behind from the seventh in or later to win 15 games this year, looked perfectly comfortable with their brush with elimination.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Hoos had the bases loaded with one out and freshmen phenom (and the game’s starting pitcher) Danny Hultzen (pictured) looking at a 3-0 count. Hultzen hit the 3-1 pitch to short, ending the inning in a double play.
Another scoring opportunity came in the bottom of the 10th inning, when the Wahoos had runners on first and third base with one out. Jarrett Parker and John Hicks both struck out.
But wait…there’s more.
In the 11th inning, Virginia had the bases loaded and two outs for clean-up hitter Dan Grovatt, who earlier had hit a home run. Grovatt grounded out.
Arkansas responded in the 12th inning with a run, but UVa’s Steven Proscia led off with a double, and advanced to third base while Parker whiffed on a third strike for the first out of the inning. Hicks followed with another strikeout, and the game-tying run remained 90 feet away.
The final innings overshadowed a memorable pitching performance by Hultzen, whose freshman season had already entered Virginia baseball lore even before he took the Rosenblatt Stadium mound on only three days of rest.
Hultzen did not allow an earned run in 6 1/3 innings, striking out seven and allowing only five hits.
Fourteen Wahoos were left on base.
"This team will always be remembered as the first team to play in the College World Series at the University of Virginia," Brian O'Connor said. "We're looking forward to the future, and hopefully we can have these opportunities again."