#18 Virginia rallies to top Yale, win series

uva baseballNo. 18 Virginia (8-4) scored six runs in the seventh inning and took the weekend series against Yale (1-6) with a 7-6, comeback win at Disharoon Park. The Cavaliers improved to 6-3 at home this season.

Virginia trailed 3-1 before sending 11 batters to the plate in the six-run, seventh inning. The six runs matched a season-high for the most in a single-inning. Andy Weber (Aurora, Ohio) drew a bases loaded walk to tie the game at three and Jake McCarthy (Scranton, Pa.) scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch.

A combination of four Yale pitchers issued three walks, threw two wild pitches and surrendered four hits in the big inning for Virginia.

“That series could have went either way, Yale is a team that will win a lot of ball games this year,” head coach Brian O’Connor said. “For me, it was Evan Sperling who hung in there and ate up the game for us a bit. He hung in there and didn’t let the game get out of hand. The big inning late in the game, we were able to take advantage of some opportunities and I’m proud of our guys, they didn’t panic.”

Evan Sperling (Poquoson, Va.) was an out away from registering his second quality start of 2018. The junior pitched 5.2 innings and struck out eight batters. He allowed his first two runs of the season when two Yale hits led to two first-inning runs. He settled in and went on to record seven of his eight strikeouts from the second inning on, including six in-a-row beginning with the last out in the second inning.

Senior Caleb Knight (Checotah, Okla.) put Virginia on the board in the bottom of the second inning, blasting the second pitch he saw over the left field wall. The home run was his third of the season and seventh of his career. He finished the day 2-for-3 with a run scored and two RBIs. He has reached base safely in all 12 games this season.

With a commanding, 7-3 lead going into the top of the eighth inning, Yale did not go away quietly. The Bulldogs scratched across three runs on just one hit to pull back within one.

Senior closer Bennett Sousa (North Palm Beach, Fla.) was charged with two of the three runs in the eighth but went on to record the final five outs and secured Virginia’s fourth win of the week. Sousa pitched a 1-2-3 top of the ninth in his third appearance in five days.

Freshman Kyle Whitten (Manassas, Va.) was credited with his first collegiate win after pitching 1.2 innings of relief. He faced six batters, allowed one run on one hit and tallied his fourth strikeout of the season.

Batting in the two-hole for the first time this year, Tanner Morris (Crozet, Va.) reached base three times and went 2-for-4 with a run scored. Senior Justin Novak (Tokyo, Japan) extended his hit streak to 10 with a single in the big seventh inning rally.

The Cavaliers will conclude their 10-game home stand on Monday when they host Davidson at Disharoon Park. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.
 
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