OMAHA, Neb. — Mike Papi delivered a walk-off RBI double in the ninth inning, and Ole Miss dropped its opening game of the College World Series with a 2-1 loss to Virginia Sunday night at TD Ameritrade Park.
Ole Miss (46-20) will get a day off before taking on Texas Tech in an elimination game on Tuesday at 2 p.m. The Red Raiders lost their opener 3-2 to TCU earlier in the day.
Virginia (50-14) had eight of the game’s nine hits, but the Rebels’ pitching trio of Chris Ellis, Jeremy Massie and Aaron Greenwood kept the Cavaliers bogged down for most of the night. Virginia stranded 10 baserunners until Papi smacked Greenwood’s full-count offering int0 the right-center field gap scoring pinch runner Thomas Woodruff for the tournament’s first walk-off victory since 2011.
But offense was hard to come by for both teams as Ellis and Virginia starter Nathan Kirby quickly settled into a pitcher’s duel.
The hard-throwing Kirby, who touched 96 miles per hour with his fastball and mixed in a heavy slider, faced the minimum through the first five innings. The only hit the left-hander gave up was a leadoff single in the third from Errol Robinson, who was erased after being thrown out on a botched hit-and-run attempt.
The Cavaliers didn’t have much more success against Ellis, though the Rebels’ ace had to work around some trouble at times. A walk and a hit batter put two on in the third before Ellis got Papi to fly out to end the threat. Virginia got back-to-back two-out singles in the fourth, but Ellis got Brandon Downs swinging to keep the game scoreless.
But Virginia broke through in the fifth.
Ellis got some help with two on and nobody out when Preston Overbey snagged Daniel Pinero’s liner and quickly threw to first baseman Sikes Orvis to double off Branden Cogswell, but Joe McCarthy sent the first pitch of his at-bat up the middle plating Irving for the only run Virginia mustered in six innings against Ellis, who scattered six hits, walked four and struck out three.
Robinson’s knock was the only hit the Rebels had. Kirby cruised through the first seven innings, striking out four on just 84 pitches, but lost his command in the eighth with two of his three walks to start the frame ending his night. Robinson greeted reliever Artie Lewicki with a sac bunt, and pinch hitter Holt Perdzock followed with an RBI groundout to draw Ole Miss even.
But Greenwood (3-2), who took the loss after relieving Massie in the eighth, issued a free pass to Irving to begin the Cavaliers’ half of the ninth before Papi won it. Lewicki (7-1) pitched two innings of scoreless relief to get the win.
See Monday’s edition of the EAGLE for complete coverage from Sunday’s game. (June 15, 2014)