No. 21 UVA rallies to defeat Old Dominion, 8-4

virginia baseballThe No. 21 UVA baseball team scored eight unanswered runs while the bullpen combination of Tyler Shambora (Jr., Venice, Fla.) and Kevin Doherty (Sr., Laytonsville, Md.) worked seven scoreless innings as the Cavaliers scored an 8-4 win over Old Dominion Tuesday afternoon at Harbor Park in Norfolk, Va.

Winners of seven of its last 10 games, UVA (27-17) fell into a 4-0 hole in the second inning in matching its largest margin in a come-from-behind win this season. The Cavaliers scored in each of the final seven innings.

“Coach Kuhn always says ‘you can overcome crooked early. It’s difficult to overcome crooked late,’ (as in) crooked numbers on the scoreboard. Certainly we did,” Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor said. “To me, Tyler Shambora was the story of the game. He came in and pitched great baseball and gave us a chance to climb back in it, and we swung the bats really well after the first two innings. It’s a big win for us.”

Shambora (4-0) allowed three hits and a walk in 4 1/3 scoreless innings to earn the win, while Doherty fired 2 2/3 perfect innings to claim his first save of the year. The third of seven ODU pitchers, reliever Nick Hartman (4-4) gave up the go-ahead run in the sixth inning in taking the loss.

Virginia starter Bennett Sousa (So., North Palm Beach, Fla.) worked two innings and allowed four runs, four hits and a pair of walks with two strikeouts. ODU starter Joey Benitez pitched three innings, giving up a run, two hits and three walks while fanning one.

Pavin Smith (So., Jupiter, Fla.) went 3-for-3 with a two-run homer and three RBI while reaching base safely in each of his five plate appearances. Adam Haseley (Jr., Windermere, Fla.) and Cameron Simmons (Fr., Royersford, Pa.) also had two hits apiece, while Matt Thaiss (Jr., Jackson, N.J.) homered as part of a two-hit day. UVA ended the afternoon with 14 hits, while ODU had seven.

ODU (25-16) struck first with a four-run second inning that included three extra-base hits. Connor Myers hit a leadoff double to left and scored when Jason McMurray followed with a triple to center. One out later, Seth Woodard walked, and Justin Hayes singled to center for a 2-0 lead. With two outs, Nick Walker lofted a fly to center which carried in the stiff wind, just out of the reach of Haseley, and bounced off the wall for a two-run triple.

Virginia sliced a run from the lead in the third inning on a two-out single from Smith to plate Ernie Clement (So., Rochester, N.Y.), and UVA added another run in the fourth on a run-scoring single from Nate Eikhoff (Fr., Bristow, Va.), bringing Haseley home after his leadoff double.

Virginia knotted the score in the fifth inning as Thaiss drew a one-out walk, and Smith followed with a two-run home run that bounced off of the padding on top of the wall in left-center and caromed into the bullpen. It was Smith’s fifth home run of the season.

UVA took the lead in the fifth on an RBI single from Thaiss and added another run in the sixth on a double from Simmons to bring in Haseley. In both cases, a UVA runner was thrown out at the plate after a relay from Walker in right field.

The Cavaliers tacked on a run in the eighth when Thaiss launched a solo home run onto the party deck behind the right-field wall. It was his team-leading seventh home run of the season. Virginia added on more run in the ninth on a two-out RBI single to center from Simmons.

Virginia continues its eight-game road trip Saturday and Sunday at Pitt. The teams will play a doubleheader at 1 p.m. Saturday and conclude the series at 1 p.m. Sunday.

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