Besides the home crowd, familiar surroundings, and being the top seed in a regional, the biggest advantage to hosting an NCAA Regional may be the pitching advantage in a top seed’s second game. That disparity was on display Sunday night as TCU was able to save ace Jared Janczak for a showdown with Virginia while Virginia was forced to burn Derek Casey in the previous game against Dallas Baptist. Janczak was brilliant going 8.0 innings, scattering six hits, giving up only one earned run, and walking only one. Only in the eighth inning did Virginia manage to put more than one runner on base, so the four run cushion given to Janczak early was able to hold up.
Texas Christian scored first when after Nolan Brown led off with a double, he was able to score on a pair of ground outs in the infield. They’d tack on three more in third thanks in part to a couple Virginia errors. Ryan Merrill led off with a single and advanced to third on Austen Wade’s single. Merrill would score the very next batter when Andy Weber and Ernie Clement couldn’t get a clean turn at second base on Zach Humphrey’s ground ball. That would prove costly as Wade scored on Evan Skoug’s double. The Hoos were able to throw out Humphreys at third, but that was after the damage was done. Skoug then scored on another error, this time by Ernie Clement on a ball hit by Brown making the score 4-1. That would end Daniel Lynch’s day. He’d leave the game after only going 2.2 innings, giving up five hits, four runs (two earned), no walks, and two strike outs. He’d give way to Alec Bettinger who did what he’s done all season, stop the bleeding and give the offense a chance.
The Hoos attempted to get something going all game putting runners on base with less than two outs in five of the eight innings they faced Janczak, but couldn’t muster anything. Against teams like TCU, those chances are hard to come by if a team is going to win, they have to capitalize.
While the Virginia bats were stymied, Bettinger was terrific. After shutting things down in the third, he went on to on to retire the Horned Frogs in order through the fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh. Walks got him in trouble in the eighth, but some nifty defense allowed him to escape the inning unscathed. After giving up a single to Michael Landestoy to start the ninth, Bettinger was lifted for Bennett Sousa. Landestoy ultimately came around to score making the score 5-1 and giving Bettinger his only run given up on the day.
Virginia tried to come back in the eighth picking up their only run when Nate Eikhoff led off with a double and scored on Weber’s single up the middle. And while Virginia was able to put two guys on in the ninth, they were quickly shut down by a trio of strike outs by Durbin Feltman who picked up the save.
Virginia must beat Dallas Baptist at 3 P.M. EDT to stay alive in the Fort Worth Regional. And if that isn’t hard enough, they’d then have the tall task of beating TCU right after and again on Tuesday. The winner of Dallas Baptist and Virginia will face TCU at 8 P.M. EDT.