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Virginia baseball team's season ends with late-night loss to Texas in College World Series
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Virginia baseball team's season ends with late-night loss to Texas in College World Series

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OMAHA, Neb. — Virginia’s season of improbable comebacks finally ended late Thursday night.

The Cavaliers, who started ACC play 4-12 and lost the first game of their regional and super regional before advancing to the College World Series, fell 6-2 to No. 2 Texas in an elimination game.

It’s UVa’s first loss in seven NCAA Tournament elimination games this season.

Like it has all season, the Cavaliers fought valiantly to keep its season alive. The battle with the Longhorns began at 9:46 p.m. local time due to a lengthy rain delay, the latest start in a College World Series game since 1997.

Virginia clashed late into the night with the nation’s No. 2 seed, erasing an early deficit and putting itself in position to win.

The Cavaliers put runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the eighth, trailing 3-2. With cleanup hitter Devin Ortiz due up, head coach Brian O’Connor opted to pinch hit Brendan Rivoli. The senior grounded into an inning-ending double play in his first at-bat of the College World Series.

Momentum flipped, and the Longhorns put up three runs in the top of the ninth to seal their 6-2 victory. A bases-clearing, three-run double from junior Zach Zubia provided the insurance runs for Texas.

UVa ends its year with 36-27 record.

Texas struck first Thursday, scoring in the second inning. Redshirt sophomore Ivan Melendez opened the inning with a double and eventually scored on an RBI single to left field from Douglas Hodo III.

Virginia’s Mike Vasil limited the damage, using a strikeout to strand runners on second and third to keep UVa within one.

The Longhorns added a second run in the fifth inning, when Eric Kennedy came around to score on a wild pitch. Kennedy started the scoring chance with a one-out single.

Trailing 2-0 entering the middle of the fifth didn’t faze Virginia, which has been stellar offensively late in postseason games. The Cavaliers put two in the scoreboard in the fifth.

With Logan Michaels on first base after a walk, sophomore Chris Newell delivered his second home run in as many games. His no-doubt moon shot over the right-field wall knotted the game at 2-2 and gave UVa’s dugout a much-needed energy boost.

Vasil ended the top of the sixth with a strikeout and celebrated in style. He pretended to sheath a sword, drawing some applause from the crowd for both the strikeout and the celebration. Vasil tossed a career-high seven innings, allowing just two runs and striking out eight.

UVa seemed to gain all the momentum after Newell’s home run, as Kyle Teel ripped a double to open the bottom of the sixth. It was his third hit of the game and seventh of the College World Series.

Unfortunately for the Wahoos, a groundout and fielder’s choice led to two quick outs. The fielder’s choice came when Nic Kent ripped a ball at redshirt freshman pitcher Pete Hansen, but Hansen blocked the ball and it ricocheted to shortstop. Texas tossed the ball to third ahead of Teel, recording the tag and out at third. A groundout ended the inning.

Texas took advantage of flipped momentum — and a new pitcher — in the eighth. With Matt Wyatt in for Vasil, the Longhorns put runners on first and second with two outs.

It set the stage for Melendez, who delivered the go-ahead RBI single up the middle as Texas took a 3-2 lead.

In the bottom of the eighth, Rivoli’s double play ended Virginia’s potential game-tying opportunity.

The Longhorns took advantage of UVa’s bullpen in the ninth, using the two-out, three-run double from Zubia to take a commanding 6-2 lead. Behind stellar defense from Kent, the Cavaliers were close to keeping the Longhorns off the board in the ninth, but the deep lineup proved too much for UVa’s worn-down bullpen.

Matt Wyatt and Zach Messinger were charged with four earned runs allowed in 1 2/3 innings pitched.

Ultimately, a deep and talented Texas team pulled away from UVa, ending the Cavaliers’ magical postseason run.

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