No. 10 UVA (13-5) overcame two different three-run deficits to sweep a mid-week series with Towson (3-12), as the Cavaliers were victorious, 10-8, Wednesday afternoon at Davenport Field. UVA defeated Towson 4-3 in the first game of the mid-week series on Tuesday afternoon.
Trailing by one run heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, 8-7, the Cavaliers plated three runs for their first lead of the game. Daniel Pinero (Jr., Toronto, Ontario) doubled to lead things off in the bottom of the eighth. He scored on a single by Ryan Karstetter (Fr., State College, Pa.). Karstetter advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Cameron Simmons (Fr., Royersford, Pa.) and later advanced to third on a ground out by Andy Weber (Fr., Aurora, Ohio).
With two outs Kevin Doherty (Sr., Laytonsville, Md.) came on to pinch hit for Nate Eikhoff (Fr., Bristow, Va.), who pinch hit earlier in the game. Doherty deposited a 1-0 pitch into left center, scoring Karstetter to give UVA its first lead of the afternoon, 9-8. After Adam Haseley (So., Windermere, Fla.) was hit by a pitch, Ernie Clement (So., Rochester, N.Y.) drove in an insurance run with a single to left center, scoring Jack Gerstenmaier (So., Richmond, Va.), who came on to pinch run for Doherty.
Trailing Towson at 3-0, 6-3 and later 7-5, UVA used back-to-back two-run homers from Matt Thaiss (Jr., Jackson, N.J.) and a solo shot from Haseley to pull even 7-7 through seven innings.
“We were in a position where we certainly needed a couple of guys to step up,” said Virginia baseball head coach Brian O’Connor. “It felt like we got behind 3-0 and then we crept back in it and then we gave it back up, and we needed somebody like Matt [Thaiss], somebody like Pavin [Smith], somebody like that to step up and have a big day and certainly Matt [Thaiss] did and it was huge for us. It wasn’t pretty by any means, but you have some of those games during the year and you feel fortunate enough to win them versus losing them.”
Towson jumped on Virginia early, plating three runs in the top of the first inning off of Cavalier starter Connor Eason (Fr., Chesapeake, Va.). Eason didn’t make it out of the first after walking two and giving up three hits. After striking out the leadoff hitter, Richie Palacios, Eason walked Colin Gimblet and Brady Policelli. Chris Henze doubled to left field, scoring Gimblet. With runners on second and third, A.J. Gallo singled to left field, scoring Policelli. Richard Miller followed with a single up the middle, scoring Henze. O’Connor pulled the hook on Eason in favor of Tyler Shambora (Jr., Venice, Fla.). With runners on first and second, Shambora made quick work to get out of the jam. He forced Cuinn Mullins to hit an infield fly to Ernie Clement (So., Rochester, N.Y.) at second base, then he struck out Billy Plante to end the threat.
Virginia scored its first run in the home half of the second inning. Pinero singled through the left side to start things off. He advanced to third on back-to-back groundouts to second base by Karstetter and Simmons. Weber roped a ball down the left field line that was dropped by Mullins, scoring Pinero, cutting UVA’s deficit to two runs, 3-1.
The Cavaliers plated another run in the bottom of the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly by Simmons. UVA started the frame with back-to-back singles by Pavin Smith (So., Jupiter, Fla.) and Pinero. Karstetter laid down the sacrifice bunt, advancing Smith and Pinero to second and third to set up the sacrifice fly by Simmons. Pinero was stranded at third after Weber grounded out to second, ending the threat.
The Tigers scored three unearned runs in the top of the fifth inning, taking a 6-2 lead. Brady Policelli walked to lead off the frame. David Rosenberger came in with a 2-0 count to face Chris Henze, who then reached base when Haseley dropped a fly ball in deep center field. Henze went to second and Policelli advanced to third. Both scored on a Gallo single up the middle. Later in the inning with two outs, Mullins singled and scored on a double by Plante.
UVA retaliated with three runs of its own, cutting the UVA deficit to one run, 6-5. Haseley homered to right center, his second of the year for one run. After Clement reached first on a Towson error, Thaiss scorched a two-run homer to right field, his third of the year.
The Tigers pushed another run across in the top of the sixth on a sacrifice fly by Policelli, giving Towson a 7-5 advantage. Thaiss evened the game at 7-7 in the bottom of the seventh with another two-run blast, his fourth homer of the season.
Towson battled, retaking the lead in the eighth, 8-7, when Palacios hit a sacrifice fly to left, scoring pinch runner Jay Sanford with one out to set up UVA’s final come from behind moment on the afternoon.
Virginia returns to action on Friday (March 18) when ACC foe Wake Forest comes to town for a three-game series. First pitch Friday is set for 5 p.m. First pitch on Saturday and Sunday are each scheduled for 1 p.m.