Bats awaken, UVA baseball bludgeons Georgia Tech, 14-4
The No. 16 Virginia baseball team scored seven runs in the third inning to take a big, early lead as it defeated Georgia Tech 14-4 Friday evening at Russ Chandler Stadium in Atlanta. Virginia (21-12, 7-9) racked up its most runs in an ACC game since tallying 14 against Duke on May 12, 2013.
The start of the game was delayed one hour, 42 minutes at the start because of rain. Play wrapped up just a few seconds after the clock hit midnight.
“It was great to see one of our best offensive nights – if not our best – that we have had this year,” Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor said. “We played really good defense as well. We really opened it up in the third inning by scoring seven runs. We put together a bunch of consecutive clutch hits and executed some bunts to move some runners over. Hopefully we can come out and start to develop some more consistency.”
For the second straight game, every Virginia starting position player recorded at least one hit. Virginia finished with 15 hits. Robbie Coman (Jr., Lake Worth, Fla.) homered as part of a three-hit night. Matt Thaiss (So., Jackson, N.J.) recorded four RBI and a pair of hits, including a key bases-clearing double in the third inning. Pavin Smith (Fr., Jupiter, Fla.) homered and drove in three runs.
Virginia starting pitcher Nathan Kirby (Jr., Midlothian, Va.) worked 5 1/3 innings, allowing four earned runs, five hits and six walks while striking out four. He earned the win and improved to 5-2 this year. Relievers Alec Bettinger (So., Woodbridge, Va.) and Tommy Doyle (Fr., Vienna, Va.) combined to shut out Georgia Tech (22-12, 7-9) over the final 3 2/3 innings.
Georgia Tech starter Jonathan King (2-2) pitched 5 2/3 innings, giving up nine runs (seven earned), nine hits and one walk while striking out four in taking the defeat.
Virginia sent 11 batters to the plate while scoring a season-high seven runs in the third inning. With runners on the corners and none out, Christian Lowry (Fr., Chesapeake, Va.) lined a single to center, scoring Ernie Clement (Fr., Rochester, N.Y.). Adam Haseley (Fr., Windermere, Fla.) laid down a bunt single to load the bases. Daniel Pinero (So., Toronto, Ontario) then reached on an error, with Coman scoring on the play to make it 2-0.
The big blow of the inning came from Thaiss, who lined a double up the right-center field gap to clear the bases and give UVa a 5-0 advantage. With one out, Pavin Smith (Fr., Jupiter, Fla.) singled to center to plate Thaiss, and Smith came around to score with two out when Clement tripled to right field.
UVa tacked on a pair of runs in the fourth. With one out Haseley walked, and he scored when Pinero sent a triple up the left-center field gap. Thaiss ripped the next pitch to first base for an RBI groundout.
A.J. Murray put the Yellow Jackets on the board in the bottom of the fourth with an opposite-field solo homer to right field. Georgia Tech scored a pair of runs in the fourth after loading the bases with one out as Matt Gonzalez grounded into a fielder’s choice to score Brandon Gold and Murray hit an RBI single to center.
The Yellow Jackets trimmed their deficit to 9-4 in the sixth. Kirby was lifted in favor of Bettinger after the Jackets put runners on first and third with one out. Brandon Gold brought Connor Justus home with an infield single. With the bases loaded and two out, Gonzalez grounded out to Clement at second base to end the threat.
Virginia countered with three runs in the seventh inning. Facing reliever Patrick Wiseman, Smith launched a long two-run home run to right field, his fourth home run of the season and first since March 8. Doherty singled to center, and Clement followed with a hit-and-run single through the left side against reliever Joe Wiseman, moving Doherty to third. Coman then grounded into a double play, scoring Doherty.
Coman launched a solo home run to left field to lead off the ninth inning, his first big fly of the season.
The series continues at 4 p.m. Saturday, while the series finale is slated for 1 p.m. Sunday. Both games will be broadcast online on ESPN3, while VirginiaSports.com and WINA 1070-AM will air the radio broadcasts.