#1 UVa. baseball holds on for 5-4 extra-inning win at VCU

uva-logo-new2Top-ranked UVa. got home runs from Derek Fisher and Brandon Downes and two RBI from Joe McCarthy to hold off VCU in front of a pro-Virginia crowd on Tuesday at The Diamond in Richmond, 5-4 in 10 innings.

The ‘Hoos (34-7, 16-5 ACC) got on the board first in the top of the first on an RBI single by McCarthy that scored Branden Cogswell from second, but VCU responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the first on a Chris Ayers RBI triple that plated Vimael Machin, who had knocked Cody Acker in moments earlier with a fielder’s choice.

Fisher led off the second with a homer to right, his first of the season in his second game back from a broken bone in his right wrist that forced the projected 2014 first-round MLB Draft pick to miss 25 games.

Virginia then took a 3-2 lead in the fifth on a sacrifice fly RBI by McCarthy that scored Daniel Pinero from third, and added to the lead in the top of the eighth with a sac-fly RBI from Pinero that scored Downes to make it 4-2 Cavs.

VCU (28-10, 9-4 Atlantic 10) made it interesting in the eighth, loading the bases off UVa. reliever Connor Jones before getting an RBI single by Bill Cullen that cut the lead to 4-3. Virginia closer Nick Howard relieved Jones and struck out Matt Davis and Loga Farrar to end that threat.

The Rams mounted another threat in the ninth, getting a one-out walk to Cody Acker, a two-out single to right by Joey Cujas and a walk to Machin to again load the bases. Ayers fell behind in the count 0-2, narrowly missed being punched out on a backdoor slider from Howard, then tapped a weak grounder past the mound that Cogswell bobbled, allowing Acker to score the tying run from third. Howard then struck out Cullen on three pitches to send the game to extra innings.

Downes took the first pitch of the 10th inning from reliever Matt Lees (5-3) over the left field wall for his sixth homer of the season.

Whit Mayberry pitched a scoreless 10th, working around a leadoff single to Davis, a one-out error by Pinero on a pop fly off the bat of Trev Marino and a two-out walk to James Bunn that loaded the bases, before getting Cujas to ground out to third to record his second save of the season.

Howard (2-0) got the win for UVa., giving up an unearned run while striking out four and walking two in an inning and two-thirds of work.

Virginia starter Artie Lewicki gave up two runs on five hits in four and a third innings, striking out three and walking one on 80 pitches, 53 of them strikes.

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