Two straight: #7 UVA falls to Wake Forest in ACC Baseball Championship
The No. 7-ranked UVA baseball team saw its ninth-inning rally fall short in a 10-9 loss to Wake Forest Friday afternoon in pool play in the ACC Baseball Championship at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, N.C. Seeded No. 3 in the field, the Cavaliers (36-20) complete their tournament stay at 7 p.m. Saturday against No. 2 seed Louisville. The 10th-seeded Demon Deacons (34-24) play No. 6 Clemson at 11 a.m. Saturday.
“Certainly it was a hard-fought game and a lot of emotion back and forth,” Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor said. “Wake Forest did a little bit more than we did. I’m not sure how many home runs they hit but it was quite a few, and to their credit, that’s the kind of team they are, and they certainly thrived on that today and did a nice job.
“I thought our guys showed a lot of fight and hung in there and had a chance throughout the game and just didn’t quite do it enough. In those middle innings where they scored seven runs, I think the eighth run in the sixth, we just couldn’t stop them, and they did a nice job of capitalizing on some opportunities. A few of those home runs were with two strikes and we just couldn’t put them away, and tip your cap to them, they did a terrific job.”
Adam Haseley (So., Windermere, Fla.) hit a pair of triples and drove in three runs as part of a three-hit day while Virginia finished with 13 hits. Pavin Smith (So., Jupiter, Fla.) also had three hits. Matt Thaiss (Jr., Jackson, N.J.) hit a third-inning single to extend his hit streak to 15 games, longest at UVA since Keith Werman’s 15-game streak in 2012.
UVA starter Alec Bettinger (Jr., Woodbridge, Va.) lasted four innings, giving up six earned runs, five hits and a pair of walks with five strikeouts. He took the loss and dropped to 2-5 on the year. Five of the 10 hits allowed by UVA’s four pitchers went for home runs.
Garrett Kelly (1-2) earned the win after working 1 2/3 innings out of the Wake Forest bullpen. Will Craig pitched the ninth and allowed a pair of runs before claiming his eighth save. Starter Connor Johnstone worked four innings, allowing five earned runs, eight hits and two walks while striking out two.
The teams traded home runs in the first two innings, as Wake’s Nate Mondou hit a solo blast to right-center with one out in the first before Daniel Pinero (So., Toronto, Ontario) cranked a solo homer to left-center over the Blue Monster in the second. It was Pinero’s second home run in as many days and his third of the season.
Virginia grabbed a 4-1 lead in the top of the third, using four straight two-out hits to score three runs. Thaiss and Smith hit back-to-back singles before Pinero lined a double to left field. Haseley then tripled to right-center to score Smith and Pinero. UVA got back-to-back doubles from Cameron Simmons (Fr., Royersford, Pa.) and Ernie Clement (So., Rochester, N.Y.) in the fourth to push its lead to 5-1.
Wake Forest started its comeback by scoring three runs in its half of the fourth, getting a two-out, two-run home run from Kevin Conway and an RBI double from Johnny Aiello. The Deacons scored four more runs in the fifth inning. Bettinger walked the leadoff batter, Jonathan Pryor, before Joey Rodriguez launched a long home run to left field for a 6-5 lead. UVA brought on Kevin Doherty (Sr., Laytonsville, Md.), but Craig soon followed with a two-run homer to left-center to give Wake an 8-5 edge.
UVA benefitted from a Wake Forest miscue in the sixth inning, as Charlie Cody (So., Chesapeake, Va.) scored from third when catcher Ben Breazeale errantly threw to first on a dropped third strike on the potential final out of the inning. The Deacons came right back in the bottom of the inning as Aiello led off with a homer to left.
The Cavaliers cut the lead to 9-7 on a one-out RBI triple from Haseley in the seventh, but Wake again responded in its half of the inning with a sacrifice fly from Conway.
UVA made things interesting against Craig in the ninth as the Cavaliers scored twice. Thaiss hit a leadoff single and Smith followed with an RBI double. UVA put runners on the corners following a Haseley single, and Cody grounded into a fielder’s choice to bring Smith home. Craig buckled down to get the final out though to strand a runner and end the game.
The ACC’s Regional Sports Networks (Comcast Sports Net Mid-Atlantic) will televise all games in pool play. The radio broadcasts for all postseason games will air on WINA 1070-AM and 98.9-FM and also will stream on VirginiaSports.com via a Cavaliers Live subscription. A link to live statistics also can be found on VirginiaSports.com.