#4 UVa. nips VMI, 8-6
The fourth-ranked Virginia baseball team recorded an 8-6 victory over VMI Wednesday evening at Davenport Field. Nick Howard (So., Olney, Md.) picked up three hits to highlight a 13-hit night for the Cavaliers (27-3).
Eight of the Cavaliers’ nine starters recorded hits. Brandon Downes (So., South Plainfield, N.J.), Joe McCarthy (Fr., Scranton, Pa.) and Kenny Towns (So., Burke, Va.) each registered a pair of hits. Downes had a pair of RBI and also scored twice.
Freshman Trey Oest (Dover, Fla.) started for UVa and worked 5 1/3 innings to earn the win and improve to 5-0. He gave up five earned runs, seven hits and a walk while fanning a career-high seven batters. Kyle Crockett (Jr., Poquoson, Va.) worked a dominating 1-2-3 ninth inning to pick up his fourth save.
Andrew Woods (2-1), the second of six VMI pitchers, took the loss after allowing three runs (two earned) and four hits in two innings. Starter Lucas Cash gave up three first-inning runs before getting pulled after the first inning.
Three VMI errors proved to be critical, as each led to an unearned run. On the flip side, Virginia did not commit an error.
VMI (14-18) scored in each of the first three innings, starting with a two-out, first-inning rally as Rob Dickinson singled and Sheldon Shifflett followed with a run-scoring triple.
Virginia countered with three runs and four hits in its half of the first, topping its totals for runs and hits for the entire contest Tuesday night in a 2-0 win at Liberty (three hits). UVa loaded the bases with none out before Downes reached on a fielder’s choice to score a run. Mike Papi (So., Tunkhannock, Pa.) then hit a sacrifice fly, and Towns followed with an RBI single to center to give UVa a 3-1 edge.
VMI chipped away over the next two innings to tie the game, getting a sacrifice fly in the second from Thomas Stallings and a solo home run to lead off the third from Dickinson.
UVa scored three runs in its half of the third inning. McCarthy led off with a single and Downes followed with a ground-rule double to right-center field. Papi ripped a single to left to score McCarthy and give UVa the lead once again. Towns then hit a potential double-play grounder to shortstop, but Drew Bryan booted it for an error, while Downes scored on the play. Reed Gragnani (Sr., Richmond, Va.) later grounded into a double play, with Towns scoring. It marked the first of four double plays that Virginia hit into in four straight innings; UVa had hit into eight double plays in the first 29 games this year.
VMI stayed close with two runs in the sixth inning. Shifflett and Matt Winn hit back-to-back singles to start the frame, and Brandon Angus bunted them over. Whit Mayberry (R-Jr., Alexandria, Va.) entered the game and struck out Ray Lopez looking before giving up consecutive RBI singles to Thomas Stallings and Bryan, pulling the Keydets to within 6-5.
UVa put up a run in the bottom of the sixth while once again taking advantage of an error. After Nate Irving (So., Yonkers, N.Y.) drew a two-out walk, Branden Cogswell (So., Ballston Lake, N.Y.) reached on a fielding error by pitcher Taylor Edens. Jared King (R-Sr., Radford, Va.) then ripped a double to left to plate Irving.
VMI cut the lead to 7-6 in the eighth inning. After Winn started the inning with a double against Mayberry, UVa brought Austin Young (Jr., Mechanicsville, Va.) to the mound. Angus hit a fly ball to center to move the runner to third, and pinch hitter Red Dowdell launched a sacrifice fly to center to plate the run. The run was just the second allowed
The Cavaliers picked up an insurance run in its half of the eighth. Irving led off with a single and one out later King reached on a fielding error by first baseman Will Connerley, with Irving moving to third. With two outs Downes slapped a single to right to score Irving.
Virgina heads to Wake Forest Saturday through Monday (April 6-8) for the Cavaliers’ first ACC series in Winston-Salem since 2009. The Monday evening contest will be televised by ESPNU.