Virginia’s first game in Omaha went just about as perfectly as they could have hoped. The Cavaliers were matched up with the hot-hitting Tennessee Volunteers — the No. 3 seed in the College World Series — but left TD Ameritrade with a huge 6-0 victory. This was just the third time this season that the Vols scored no runs, and the Hoos got a dominant performance from ace Andrew Abbott.
Abbott got into a few jams, but each time was able to evade disaster with a well-timed strikeout or strong defensive play from his teammates behind him. He finished with 10 strikeouts in six innings pitched and gave up just five hits. Matt Wyatt took the mound for the final three innings, giving up just one hit and striking out three.
Offensively, Virginia’s bats got rolling with 13 hits in the game. Things really broke open in the seventh as the Hoos turned a one-run game into a five-run advantage. They’d add one more insurance run in the top of the ninth before Wyatt sat down three straight batters to secure the victory.
Both Logan Michaels and Zack Gelof went 3-for-4 at the plate, and Max Cotier added two hits and one RBI.
Michaels gave Virginia a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning, launching an absolute no-doubter into left center field. It was Michaels’ first home run of the season, and the second of his Virginia career. While the home run was important on the scoreboard, it was also gave his father, Jeff, a wonderful Father’s Day present after battling pancreatic cancer.
Tennessee threatened again in the fifth as Jordan Beck drew a walk, and Pete Derkay slapped a single down the left field line. A sacrifice bunt put both runners in scoring position, putting the Vols one good hit away from the lead. Liam Spence made great contact, but Max Cotier made a leaping snag for the second out that held the runners. After working a 2-2 count, Max Ferguson put a ball into play. Nic Kent made an impressive play at short, getting the Hoos out of the inning without any damage.
The Cavaliers wasted a chance to build on their lead after getting two on with no outs in the top of the sixth. Cotier started the inning with a base hit, and Teel drew a four-pitch walk. After Devin Ortiz grounded into a double play, Kent sent a deep fly to right to end the threat.
Tennessee got two on with no outs again in the sixth, but once again Abbott shone as he got a ground out and struck out the next two batters. He left the game to raucous applause from the UVA faithful in Omaha with a final line of six innings pitched with 10 strikeouts and no runs given up. Abbott became the first Virginia pitcher to register 10 Ks in a College World Series game.
Virginia rewarded Abbott’s performance with a four-run top of the seventh as they rattled off six hits and stole two bases. Alex Tappen got things started for the Hoos with a single, and Jake Gelof successfully moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt. Then Michaels came up huge again, this time lacing a single to center that scored Tappen from second. Michaels got to second on the play to the plate, and he came home on the next at bat as Chris Newell laced a single to right.
Newell stole second, then made it 4-0 after a Zack Gelof single — his third hit of the game. Gelof, in turn, stole second, then came home on a Cotier knock. Teel got a bloop hit to fall, putting runners on the corner for Devin Ortiz, but a double play would end the inning with the Hoos leading 5-0.
Wyatt entered the game in the seventh and stranded one Vols baserunner to keep the five-run advantage. Tennessee wouldn’t really threaten again, and Virginia was able to lock down the win and move to the pivotal winner’s bracket.
Tennessee stranded eight players on base, went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position, and were 0-for-4 at the plate with a runner at third with fewer than two outs.
The Cavaliers will have another tough test on Tuesday night as they face either No. 2 Texas or No. 7 Mississippi State at 7pm on ESPN2.