CHARLOTTESVILLE — The rain that caused the tarp to appear at Virginia’s Davenport Field during the second inning Sunday night was innocent enough. After a 22-minute delay, the Cavaliers and Mississippi State resumed their super regional.
The deluge that followed a little more than two hours later kept Virginia’s season alive for at least one more day.
After another delay of 73 minutes with thunderstorms in the area, Game 2 between the Cavaliers and Bulldogs was suspended until Monday at 4 with Mississippi State holding a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning and just six outs from reaching the College World Series. Virginia was facing an elimination game after the Bulldogs won Game 1 in the best-of-three series, 11-6, on Saturday.
Should the Cavaliers come back and win Monday afternoon, they would face Mississippi State in a winner-take-all Game 3 just 55 minutes after the conclusion of Game 2.
Postponing play Sunday night was likely in the Cavaliers’ best interests given the way Bulldogs reliever Chad Girado plowed through Virginia’s lineup after replacing starter Trevor Fitts in the third inning. The left-hander had thrown 10 strikeouts in 42 / 3 innings as his teammates built a four-run lead off Cavaliers ace Scott Silverstein.
Silverstein (10-1, 2.86 ERA entering Sunday) struggled with his control after the initial rain delay in the second inning, and the Bulldogs erased Virginia’s early 1-0 lead when Adam Frazier connected on an RBI single. Center fielder Brandon Downes, who got the Cavaliers on the scoreboard with a solo home run that cleared the left-field bleachers in the top half of the second inning, limited the damage by throwing out Mississippi State’s DeMarcus Henderson at home to end the threat.
But just as Silverstein appeared to find his groove again following a strikeout of Mississippi State star Hunter Renfroe, the Bulldogs’ 6-foot-5, 272-pound first baseman, Wes Rea, connected on a deep two-out, two-run homer that left Virginia facing a 3-1 deficit.
The inning could have been over during the previous at bat. But Virginia shortstop Nick Howard bounced a throw to first baseman Jared King and it allowed Mississippi State second baseman Brett Pirdle to leg out an infield hit.
Frazier, who went 6 for 6 from the plate in Game 1, then chased Silverstein from the game with one out in the fourth inning after his second RBI. It also forced Virginia Coach Brian O’Connor to use all-ACC closer Kyle Crockett earlier than he had all season.
A throwing error by Howard, one of Virginia’s six miscues in two super regional games, allowed another run to cross home plate and Mississippi State took a 5-1 lead into the fifth inning.
Virginia finally broke through against Girodo in the sixth inning, loading the bases with two outs and scoring two runs on an RBI double by catcher Nate Irving to cut Mississippi State’s lead to 5-3.
But a 1-2-3 seventh inning and the arrival of more rain and lightning put a halt to any momentum the Cavaliers may have gathered. It also ended Girodo’s outing, though.
●NORTH CAROLINA STATE 5, RICE 4: Tarran Senay scored on a double by Brett Williams in the top of the 17th inning of Game 2, rallying the Wolfpack to a victory over the Owls in the longest super regional game in NCAA history and sending his team to the College World Series.
●LOUISVLLE 2, VANDERBILT 1: Jeff Thompson surrendered one run in seven strong innings to make two early runs stand up in the Cardinals’ Game 2 win over the host Commodores, sending Louisville to Omaha for the second time.
●INDIANA 11, FLORIDA STATE 6: Sam Travis hit a tiebreaking two-run homer as the Hoosiers swept the Seminoles to reach the College World Series for the first time and become the first Big Ten team to reach Omaha since Michigan in 1984.
●SOUTH CAROLINA 8, NORTH CAROLINA 0: Jordan Montgomery pitched a four-hit shutout, leading the Gamecocks past the Tar Heels to force a third game in Chapel Hill, N.C.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.