#16 UVA evens series, blasts #2 Louisville, 11-2

uva baseballThe No. 16 UVA baseball team broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth inning on a Pavin Smith (Jr., Jupiter, Fla.) grand slam and rolled from there in an 11-2 victory over No. 2 Louisville Saturday at Davenport Field. The Cavaliers (21-7, 5-6 ACC) evened the three-game series at a game apiece, setting up a series-deciding Game 3 at 1 p.m. Sunday.

“That was a big response by our ballclub,” Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor said. “Offensively, once we got into the middle innings we really swung the bat aggressively, and that was great to see. In Game 1, Louisville had some individual players step up, and we didn’t. That was the story of the game. I thought our guys responded today, and we had a number of guys that stepped up offensively. We did some good things defensively.

“Alec Bettinger again was terrific out of the bullpen. He got the game under control and allowed us to do some things offensively and open the game up a little bit. It was a great bounceback win for our guys today, and we’re excited to come out tomorrow and have a chance to win the series.”

Bettinger (4-0) worked six shutout innings out of the bullpen to finish the game for UVA. He allowed five hits and three walks and struck out three. Starter Evan Sperling (So., Poquoson, Va.) pitched three innings, giving up two runs, one hit and three walks while fanning three.

Smith was 2-for-3 with five RBI, while every UVA starter finished with at least one hit as the Cavaliers picked up 12 hits. Caleb Knight (Jr., Checotah, Okla.) also hit a 2-run homer for the Cavaliers.

Louisville starter Kade McClure (3-1) gave up five runs (three earned), four hits and three walks in 4 1/3 innings in taking the loss.

The teams traded home runs in the second and third innings. Knight hit a two-run, opposite-field shot off the scoreboard in right-center in the bottom of the second for his first home run at UVA, but Louisville (23-3, 9-2) responded with a two-out, two-run Devin Hairston blast to left-center in the third.

The game turned in the fifth inning. In the top of the inning, Louisville put runners on the corners with none out, but Bettinger struck out Hairston before inducing a 4-6-3 double-play ball from Brendan McKay. The Cavaliers loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the inning to knock McClure from the game, and Smith hit the first pitch from left-hander Rabon Martin into the top row of the right-field bleachers for his second career grand slam.

UVA tacked on two runs in the sixth inning as Ernie Clement (Jr., Rochester, N.Y.) hit a sac fly to score Jake McCarthy (So., Rochester, N.Y.), and reliever Riley Thompson uncorked a wild pitch with two out to allow Andy Weber (So., Aurora, Ohio) to come home.

Adam Haseley (Jr., Windermere, Fla.) and Smith hit back-to-back RBI doubles in the eighth before Cameron Simmons (So., Royersford, Pa.) lined a single to center for a commanding 11-2 lead.

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