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Griff McGarry and some timely hitting keeps Virginia’s Omaha hopes alive

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Hoos play in a decisive Game 3 on Monday.

Virginia Media Relations

Virginia pitcher Griff McGarry walked Dallas Baptist batter George Specht to open the top of the eighth inning in a 0-0 game. He had thrown 114 pitches on the afternoon in yet another elimination for the never-say-die Cavaliers, and McGarry was ready to face his 27th batter of the game. The home plate umpire held his hands up and approached the Virginia pitcher on the mound.

With McGarry’s right pant leg already spotted after blotting his bleeding thumb repeatedly, a new cut on his right ring finger welled-up with blood. “It wasn’t his thumb,” Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor explained of the injury that led to McGarry exiting the game. “The bleeding wouldn’t stop. The rule in that case, is they the umpires will give you 10 minutes to stop the bleeding.”

They wouldn’t use the full 10 minutes as O’Connor had already decided that this would be his starter’s last batter faced. McGarry was fantastic on the afternoon, striking out 10 and only allowing two hits in 7.1 innings.

“The kid has had some good outings in his career, but none of them quite like that when his team needed him the most,” O’Connor said to open the postgame press conference. “No matter what happens, he’ll have that for the rest of his life.”

Brandon Neeck would get out of the inning with no runs allowed, and two big hits in the bottom of the eighth blew the game open. Third baseman Zack Gelof chased DBU starter Rhett Kouba — who was also fantastic with 7.1 innings of six-hit baseball with five strikeouts — from the game with a solo shot to left that gave Virginia a 1-0 lead. A hit by Kyle Teel and a walk from Devin Ortiz put two on base for Alex Tappen, who blasted a no-doubter into left.

It was the fifth-straight elimination game win for the Cavaliers, who will face one more today (June 14) as they look to return to Omaha and the College World Series for the first time since 2015 when they won it all. Lefty Nate Savino will take the mound in Game 3 as Virginia tries to work a little more magic.

“It’s definitely a special group of guys that want to go through the finish line, and everybody is willing to step up and do whatever they can to propel this team forward,” McGarry said of the 2021 squad. “The Hoos have heart.”

Virginia and DBU face off at 1pm, with the game being televised by ESPNU.