No. 19 Virginia splits Saturday doubleheader at Duke

uva baseballA standout pitching performance by Daniel Lynch (Henrico, Va.) helped No. 19 Virginia (10-6, 1-2 ACC) to a 3-0 victory over Duke (12-3, 2-1 ACC) in game one of a Saturday doubleheader. The Blue Devils produced a 3-2 walk-off win in the nightcap to capture the weekend series.

Lynch and reliever Andrew Abbott (Halifax, Va.) combined for a four-hit shutout in game one, the second time the Cavaliers have held an opponent scoreless this season. The win halted a 10-game Duke win streak and was the first home loss of the season for the Blue Devils.

With two outs in the bottom of the 11th of game two, pinch-hitter Steve Mann, singled through the left side allowing the winning run to score on a close play at the plate. Max Miller’s hand was just under the tag of Cameron Comer (Powell, Ohio) after a perfect strike to the plate by leftfielder Charlie Cody (Chesapeake, Va.). The hit by the freshman Mann was the first of his collegiate career.

Between the two games, the Virginia pitching staff combined to strike out 32 Duke batters.

Virginia returns home on Wednesday (March 14) for a midweek matchup against James Madison. The game will be the first on a six-game home stand at Disharoon Park. First pitch against the Dukes is scheduled for 4 p.m.

Game 1 | Virginia 3 – Duke 0

Lynch put forth his best effort of the 2018 season, matching a season-high, seven innings pitched. He struck out seven batters, also matching the most in four starts this year, while walking two. The junior lefty was strong until his last out and stranded two runners after a Virginia error in the seventh. His only 1-2-3 inning of the day came in the sixth.

Abbott closed out Virginia’s second shutout of the season with two scoreless innings of relief. He struck out four of the seven batters he faced and was credited with his second save of the season.

Comer played a hand in two of the three Cavalier runs. He made the score 2-0 in the fourth with two-out double into right centerfield scoring Alex Tappen (Lower Gwynedd, Pa.). He later scored the game’s third run, coming around all the way from second on a Duke throwing error. He finished game one going 2-for-4 with two doubles, an RBI and a run scored.

Duke, who came into the series with the ACC’s highest fielding percentage, committed two errors in the contest which led to runs in the first and seventh innings.

Cody went 2-for-3 with a walk in his fifth multi-hit game of the season. Making his third start overall and his first in centerfield, freshman Devin Ortiz (Frenchtown, N.J.) went 2-for-4, his first two-hit game of his collegiate career.

Game 2 | Virginia 2 – Duke 3 (11 innings)

Evan Sperling (Poquoson, Va.) picked up right where Lynch and Abbott left off and held Duke hitless over the first four innings, retiring the first 12 batters he faced. He struck out eight batters over his first four innings including five of the first six Blue Devil hitters. He finished the game with a career-high 12 strikeouts in 6.1 innings pitched.

The Cavaliers scored both of its runs on a two-run single by Andy Weber (Aurora, Ohio) in the top of the first inning plating Tanner Morris (Crozet, Va.) and Justin Novak (Tokyo, Japan). Just like he did in game Morris led off the game with a single and Novak reached on Duke fielding error.

Duke’s Griffin Conine pulled the Blue Devils within a run with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth inning. Sperling was charged with the tying run after leaving in the seventh with a runner on first base. The game tying hit came off the bat of Jack Lobosky, a double to right field that scored Chris Proctor.

Bennett Sousa (North Palm Beach, Fla.) was called upon to get the final two outs of the seventh with the bases loaded and he delivered with two of his nine strikeouts. The lefty reliever went on to retire 12-straight batters to keep the game tied at two.

Lobosky matched Sousa retiring 10 batters in-a-row from the eighth until the 11th. The Cavaliers loaded the bases with one out in the frame but Cody lined into a double play to end the threat.

Sousa yielded two infield hits in the 11th and eventually the game-winning hit to Mann. In total, Sousa worked 4.1 innings and struck out a career-best nine batters.

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