At 4:05 p.m., Monday, some 18 hours after the delay started, Virginia’s Kyle Crockett delivered a 0-2 pitch off the plate to Mississippi State’s Hunter Renfroe.
It was a delivery of hope, a toss that could potentially trigger yet another comeback win for the Cavaliers to save their 2013 season.
But Renfroe would eventually end the at-bat with a scene that appropriately summed up this Charlottesville Super Regional. He doubled down the right field line and advanced to third on a Virginia error.
The series got extended for a day, but it didn’t change the result. MSU is heading to the College World Series after a 6-5 win in a game that started at 7:05 p.m., Sunday, and ended at 4:55 p.m., Monday.
Under sunny skies, the Bulldogs piled on the Davenport Field mound. At 50-12, UVa’s year is over.
“[Mississippi State] certainly earned it this weekend,” said Virginia coach Brian O’Connor. “They beat us in a lot of phases of the game. They’ve got a really nice ballclub, very veteran team that knows what they’re doing. They earned this title this weekend and they earned the right to move on.”
And in fitting fashion, they were forced to earn the final three outs.
UVa came to its half of the ninth inning trailing 6-3 and up against MSU closer Jonathan Holder, an All-American who sat the Wahoos down in order in the eighth.
But this was the 2013 version of Virginia baseball, a bunch that had rallied for 23 comeback wins.
Naturally, the Cavs didn’t go down without a fight, scratching together four base-runners and scoring two runs. Joe McCarthy was at third base when Derek Fisher grounded out to end the game and spark the Mississippi State celebration.
“None of us are surprised that we mounted something in that last inning,” said UVa catcher Nate Irving. “It’s just a testament to our guys and our approach, how consistent it’s been all year.
“Unfortunately, we just ran out of outs.”
The Crockett vs. Renfroe matchup to start Monday was the resumption of Sunday’s washout, but it didn’t come without the weekend’s features.
In the two-game sweep, Virginia committed seven errors, giving it 75 for the season, its highest total in at least the last six seasons.
The most costly goof came Monday on Renfroe’s double, the first swing of the afternoon.
The All-American right fielder doubled to the right field corner and then got to third when McCarthy overran the baseball. It was the ACC Freshman of the Year’s lone error of the season.
Renfroe would go on to score on a C.T. Bradford single, a liner to right that bounced in front of a sliding McCarthy. It gave the Bulldogs a 6-3 lead, their needed insurance run.
“I would never say that I’m disappointed in a team, and I am not disappointed in this ballclub at all,” O’Connor said. “It is frustrating, though. This can happen. We have been in this situation before where we haven’t played our best baseball, and that is typically what happens when a team doesn’t play up to their ability.”
Scott Silverstein, who exited after 3 1/3 innings on Sunday, took the loss. The fifth-year senior gave up five runs on seven hits and walked three.
The left-hander’s struggles started in the second inning after the game resumed from its first weather delay. Leading 1-0, Silverstein couldn’t hold it, allowing an Adam Frazier RBI single. That led to four more Bulldog runs over the next two frames.
“I don’t know if it was so much the weather,” said Silverstein, who fought back tears in the post-game press conference. “It was just another game. You lose control for a hitter and you got to step off and re-gather yourself and get the next guy.”
Mississippi State (48-18) made that a challenge all series.
The Bulldogs racked up 17 runs on 30 hits, mashing their way to Omaha.
“Their offensive game plan was tremendous,” O’Connor said. “They covered the plate. They were on pitches that typically we have seen guys swing and miss at. That’s a credit to them. I thought they did a tremendous job.”
Virginia’s 2013 work is over. It won 50 games for the third time in program history. It advanced to a Super Regional for the fourth time in five years.
It just didn’t get to the College World Series.
“We are very disappointed we didn’t have another chance to play,” O’Connor said.