ERIC OLSON, AP Sports Writer
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Given the windy conditions and size of the ballpark, TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle wondered if the College World Series game against Virginia would ever end.
It took 15 innings, but Nate Irving and Daniel Pinero finally got the job done for the Cavaliers. Pinero’s sacrifice fly scored pinch-runner Thomas Woodruff in the bottom of the 15th and sent the Horned Frogs to a 3-2 loss Tuesday night.
It was the longest game, as measured by innings, since Southern California beat Florida State 2-1 in 15 in the 1970 national championship game. Two other CWS games had gone 15.
This game went 4 hours, 51 minutes, making it the fourth-longest by time.
TCU pitchers retired every Virginia batter in extra innings before Irving’s fly to left to start the 15th got over Boomer White and bounced over the wall. Woodruff entered as a pinch runner and moved to third on Branden Cogswell’s sacrifice bunt.
Pinero fouled off two squeeze-bunt attempts before he lofted a fly to center. Cody Jones’ throw toward home never had a chance to get Woodruff. The Cavaliers bench and bullpen emptied, with everybody mobbing Pinero near second base.
Before that, Schlossnagle said, “I was looking down the bench at our coaches (wondering) how is either team going to score? Until at least somebody comes out of the bullpen and gets tired enough just to leave one pitch up. Irving did a great job of working the count to 3-2.
“We had to give in to him with the wind blowing in, and he hit it hard enough and kept it low enough to get over Boomer’s head.”
Virginia (51-14), which had a walk-off 2-1 win against Mississippi on Sunday in nine innings, will play Friday in its bracket final. TCU (48-17) will face Ole Miss in an elimination game on Thursday, with the winner matched against Virginia again.
Artie Lewicki (8-1) got the win with two innings of no-hit relief. Trey Teakell (6-1) worked 2 1-3 innings and took the loss. Players on both teams, swinging the restricted bats that entered the game in 2011, struggled to generate any offense with the wind blowing in at up to 30 mph at TD Ameritrade Park.
“It’s hard to get offense when you’re facing that kind of pitching, especially … I got to be careful before I say some things about this ballpark that I’ll regret, but it’s just a travesty what we’ve done to college baseball,” Schlossnagle said.
After Pinero failed to get a bunt down, he went to his two-strike approach.
“He threw me a high curveball,” he said, “and I stayed back and put it in the air.”
Nick Howard, Whit Mayberry and Lewicki shut down the Horned Frogs in relief of Brandon Waddell before the Cavaliers broke through.
“These guys were into it and just trying to find a way,” Cavaliers coach Brian O’Connor said. “You look at the pitching on both sides that was thrown out there. There were some really special arms. It was a matter of someone finding a break.”
TCU had been involved in the longest game in college baseball this season less than three weeks ago, when it beat Sam Houston State in 22 innings in regionals.
Each team had chances to win before the 15th.
Virginia center fielder Brandon Downes threw out Kyle Bacak at third in the 12th, Jones’ diving catch robbed Mike Papi of extra bases in the ninth, and the Cavaliers failed to push a run across after having men in scoring position in the eighth and ninth.
TCU left-hander Brandon Finnegan scattered nine hits over eight innings. The Kansas City Royals’ first-round draft pick allowed two runs, one earned, making it the 15th time in 17 starts he has given up two or fewer.