Following a resounding victory against Tennessee to open the College World Series, Virginia carried that momentum into the first two innings against Mississippi State on Tuesday, scoring one run in the first and three runs in the second.
The Hoos couldn’t take advantage of a bases-loaded, one-out situation in that inning, however, striking out twice after driving Bulldogs starter Christian MacLeod from the game following 1.1 innings and 35 pitches.
Despite getting into a Mississippi State bullpen that used several pitchers overall, Virginia wasn’t able to seriously threaten the Bulldogs until an eighth inning home run.
By that point, it was already too late.
Virginia starter Griff McGarry continued his remarkable postseason run with eight strikeouts and two earned runs over 7.1 innings, but once he exited the game, the Cavaliers bullpen couldn’t hold onto the lead. A full-count walk to start the frame and a two-run home run led to McGarry’s departure and the situation only deteriorated from there.
A single and a double chased the first Virginia reliever in favor of closer Stephen Schoch, who entered the game with eight saves and only one loss while holding opponents to a .209 average. Mississippi State star Tanner Allen only needed two pitches to get to Schoch, hitting a three-run home run on a 1-0 pitch.
Schoch wasn’t able to able to finish the inning, allowing a single and a four-pitch walk. That pitching change didn’t work, either, as the Bulldogs added a one-run single before the Cavaliers finally escaped the disastrous frame.
Virginia still has left-hander Mike Vasil available for Thursday’s game against Texas. The big junior has started 15 games this season with a 7-5 record and 4.82 ERA. Vasil doesn’t walk many batters, but he isn’t a high-strikeout pitcher and gives up hits at a steady rate.
Behind the starter of choice for the Cavaliers, the bullpen wasn’t necessarily extended against the Bulldogs, but Schoch’s issues on Tuesday aren’t a positive sign for Virginia.
As a team, the Hoos aren’t particularly good at the plate on the season and don’t have a lot of power.
Texas head coach David Pierce did not commit to a starter on Thursday after left-hander Pete Hansen after throwing 26 pitches in two innings on Sunday, but Hansen remains the favorite to start for the Longhorns.
First pitch on Thursday is at 6 p.m. Central on ESPN2.