OMAHA — The loser of Tuesday's nationally-ranked contest between Virginia and TCU was bound to be in a hole, facing the unenviable challenge of winning three consecutive games to reach next week's finals.
The longer it went, inning after inning after godforsaken inning, the deeper the hole became.
Right as the clock struck midnight, Virginia's Daniel Pinero lifted a sacrifice fly to centerfield, scoring pinchrunner Thomas Woodruff from third base and dispatching TCU, 3-2, in 15 innings.
Conventional wisdom says the hole became bigger the longer the game went, inning after inning after godforsaken inning. At deeper second glance, though, TCU came out better than one might think.
Star closer Riley Ferrell, who pitched four innings of one-hit ball in relief (46 innings), will likely be held out of Thursday's game against Ole Miss, but if TCU wins that one, Ferrell should be fine on two days of rest to gear up for a possible two-game series against Virginia. Meanwhile, losing pitcher Trey Teakell ought to be ready to go for at least an inning Thursday — he threw 2 2/3 innings (32 total pitches) — which doesn't deviate at all from his average innings work per appearance.
For a 15-inning game, it's remarkable the Horned Frogs managed to use just three pitchers (the two relievers along with Brandon Finnegan).
"Having the day off certainly helps," coach Jim Schlossnagle said of his team's Thursday fortunes. "But I'm confident. We're a resilient bunch, and we just so happened to lose a close one today."
TCU, as of Wednesday evening, hadn't decided whether it'll start lefty Tyler Alexander (10-3, 2.16 ERA) or righty Jordan Kipper (8-2, 3.10 ERA) against an Ole Miss club that started five left-handed hitters and four righties in its 2-1 win over Texas Tech on Tuesday.