Andrew Hutchinson has been a multimedia reporter for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette since 2014.
Virginia eliminates Arkansas
Arkansas outfielder Tyler Spoon (8) makes a diving catch in the sixth inning during an NCAA college baseball regional tournament game against Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., Sunday, June 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Andrew Shurtleff)
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. For the second time in as many days, Virginia pitchers shutdown Arkansas' lineup in the Charlottesville Regional.
Brandon Waddell struck out four batters and gave up seven hits in 6 2/3 innings in the Cavaliers' 9-2 win over the Razorbacks Sunday night. The loss ended Arkansas' season with a record of 40-25.
“I think we ran out of gas a little bit,” coach Dave Van Horn said. “It told the team after the game (that) I appreciate the effort they’ve given us the last couple of months.”
Virginia went down in order in the first two innings before scoring six runs off of Arkansas starter Zach Jackson with two outs in the third inning.
John La Prise led off the third with a single to give the Cavaliers their first base runner and Brandon Downes followed by reaching on a hit by pitch. A one-out walk to Branden Cogswell loaded the bases and a two-out walk to Mike Papi forced in the game’s first run.
“We’re one pitch from getting out of that jam,” Van Horn said. “It was a close pitch and (Papi) has a tremendous eye.”
The Razorbacks could have gotten out of the inning down 1-0, but Clark Eagan couldn’t handle a hard-hit ground ball at third, allowing another run to score and extending the inning. It was ruled a hit.
Two more singles and a Michael Bernal error pushed Virginia’s lead to 6-0.
Jackson did not make it out of the inning. He pitched 2 2/3 innings and allowed six runs, four of which were earned. The right-hander also gave up three hits and two walks while striking out three.
“That kid that started for (Arkansas) on the mound today, that guy is going to be really, really good,” Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor said. “You watch the Major League draft in two years, that guy is a lock to be a first round pick.”
After going down in order in the first inning, Arkansas had at least one hit in the second, third and fourth innings.
In the second, Brian Anderson and Tyler Spoon each had a hit, but the opportunity was wiped out by an inning-ending double play by KJ Wilkerson.
Arkansas also wasted a one-out double by Michael Bernal and one-out single by Anderson in the third and fourth inning, respectively.
Wilkerson's two-run home run in the seventh inning pulled the Razorbacks within four runs, but that was the only scoring Arkansas could manage against Virginia in two games. Those runs were also the only two allowed by Virginia starting pitchers in 21 2/3 innings in the regional.
“(Waddell) did a good job of mixing pitches,” Wilkerson said. “He threw a slider and left it up a little bit. I was just trying to put a good swing on it and give my team a chance.”
Jake Wise followed the home run with a double over the left fielder’s head, chasing Waddell from the game.
It proved to be the final at bat of his career. He went 1-for-3 Sunday night, finishing his senior season with a .149 batting average.
When Jackson came out of the game, Van Horn brought in Landon Simpson. The right-hander tossed three scoreless innings before Cogswell hit a ball up the middle that hit him in the back.
Michael Gunn came in and stretched the Arkansas bullpen’s scoreless streak to 18 innings by allowing only one hit and a walk in 1 1/3 innings of work. The scoreless streak was snapped in the ninth inning, however, when the Cavaliers scored three runs off of James Teague and Jacob Stone.
Virginia scored two runs on a single by Derek Fisher and added a run on another Bernal error. Arkansas’ shortstop finished the regional with three errors.
The only other bright spot for the Razorbacks at the regional was Anderson.
In what could be his last time in an Arkansas uniform, the junior went 8-for-13 at the plate, including 6-for-7 and reaching base nine times in Sunday’s two games. He is eligible for the MLB Draft that starts Thursday.
“I’m just trying to get on base however I can,” Anderson said. “Some of the balls I hit found holes.”
The three batters in front of Anderson – Clark Eagan, Joe Serrano and Andrew Benintendi – combined to go 0-for-12 in the loss to Virginia on Sunday night.
Virginia (47-13) advanced to the Super Regionals for the fifth time in six years and improved to 32-3 this season at Davenport Field. The Cavaliers will next host ACC rival Maryland, who upset South Carolina to win the Columbia, S.C. Regional.