Miami tops #5 UVa. baseball in series finale

uva-logo-new2The fifth-ranked Virginia baseball team had its nine-game win streak come to an end Sunday as it fell, 4-3, to Miami at Davenport Field. The Hurricanes (20-11, 5-7 ACC) scored four runs in the first inning and held on as the Cavaliers (25-3, 9-3) chipped away before falling short.

Reed Gragnani (Sr., Richmond, Va.) finished off a great weekend by going 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI. He went 6-for-12 with nine RBI in the series. Brandon Downes (So., South Plainfield, N.J.) added a pair of hits for Virginia, which picked up nine hits but left 13 runners on base.

UVa starting pitcher Nick Howard (So., Olney, Md.) was tagged with the loss and fell to 3-2 after giving up four earned runs, five hits and three walks over 4 1/3 innings. Virginia’s bullpen again was outstanding, going 4 2/3 shutout innings and allowing just one baserunner. The Cavaliers’ bullpen did not allow a run in 13 innings over the weekend and has given up just one run over its last 35 1/3 innings.

After picking up four hits in the first inning, Miami had just one hit and five baserunners over the final eight innings.

Miami reliever Thomas Woodrey (4-0) earned the win after allowing one unearned run, four hits and a walk over 3 1/3 innings. Eric Nedeljkovic pitched the final 1 2/3 innings to nab his sixth save. UM starter Andrew Suarez allowed two earned runs, five hits and two walks over four innings.

Miami scored all the runs it needed in the first inning. Chris Barr and Ricky Eusebio hit back-to-back singles to start the inning and Chantz Mack loaded the bases with a walk. Brad Fieger singled to center to plate a run, and Michael Broad drove in another run when he reached on a fielder’s choice. Grant Heyman followed with a run-scoring double to left before Alex Hernandez lifted a sacrifice fly to right field to score Broad and give the Hurricanes a 4-0 edge.

Virginia cut the lead in half in the second inning. Downes hit a leadoff single to center and moved up with one out when Mike Papi (So., Tunkhannock, Pa.) was hit by a pitch. With two outs Gragnani lined a double into the right-field corner to score both runners.

The Cavaliers had big scoring opportunities in the third and fourth innings, loading the bases with two outs in each instance, but failed to score. UVa left runners on base in each of the final eight innings.

UVa chipped another run from the lead in the sixth inning against Woodrey. Nate Irving (So., Yonkers, N.Y.) walked with one out and advanced to second on a Branden Cogswell (So., Ballston Lake, N.Y.) single. With two outs Joe McCarthy hit a hard grounder which when under the glove of Hernandez at shortstop for an error, with Irving coming around to score.

Virginia hits the road Tuesday for a 6 p.m. non-conference tilt at Liberty. The game is sold out and will be webcast by ESPN3. WINA 1070-AM will have the radio broadcast, while also will have the audio broadcast through its Cavaliers Live service.

The Liberty game also marks the start of a stretch where the Cavaliers will play 11 of their 19 April games on the road. UVa will play host to VMI at 6 p.m. Wednesday in a rescheduled game from March 6, then will travel to Wake Forest Saturday through Monday (April 6-8) for a three-game ACC series.

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Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.

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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