Augusta Free Press

Virginia falls to Duke in ACC pool play, 4-3

The No. 10 Virginia baseball team lost to Duke, 4-3, Thursday afternoon in pool play at the 2017 ACC Baseball Championship at Louisville Slugger Field in Louisville, Ky. Competing in Pool D, the fourth-seeded Cavaliers are 0-1 in pool play, while the ninth-seeded Blue Devils are 2-0.

Virginia (41-14) wraps up ACC tournament play at noon Friday against No. 5 seed Clemson. The game will be contested at Jim Patterson Stadium on the campus of the University of Louisville and will air online via ACC Network Extra. Duke (30-27) has clinched the pool and advances to play in the semifinals at 1 p.m. Saturday.

“We didn’t play good defense. We walked a few too many guys, and we didn’t execute,” Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor said. “For whatever reason, I accept responsibility for it, I thought the way we played was very, very soft. That said, that doesn’t take anything away from Duke. I think their starting pitcher (Ryan Day) did a tremendous job. They got some big, clutch hits, especially in the sixth inning where they scored three runs, but we’re consumed right now with the way that we play the game, and I’m very, very disappointed, not in the loss, but the way that we played the baseball game, and that is not Virginia baseball, and those players know it, and we’ve got to make an adjustment moving forward.”

Virginia was limited to six hits, matching its second fewest in a game this year. Caleb Knight (Jr., Checotah, Okla.) had a pair of hits, including a double. Duke finished with eight hits in the game.

Virginia starter Derek Casey (Jr., Mechanicsville, Va.) worked 5 1/3 innings, allowing four runs (two earned), six hits and two walks while striking out four. He took the loss and fell to 4-2. Duke starter Ryan Day (4-3) worked 6 2/3 innings, allowing three runs, six hits and a walk while striking out one. Jack Labosky stranded a UVA runner on third in the ninth to work a scoreless ninth inning and claim his seventh save.

Duke grabbed the early lead on Kennie Taylor’s two-out RBI single in the first inning, but UVA countered with two runs in the fourth. With one out and two on, Robbie Coman (Gr., Lake Worth, Fla.) lined a double to left-center to plate Adam Haseley (Jr., Windermere, Fla.). Cameron Simmons (So., Royersford, Pa.) followed with a run-scoring groundout, bringing home Pavin Smith (Jr., Jupiter, Fla.).

Duke took the lead with a three-run sixth inning. The Blue Devils loaded the bases with one out when Michael Smiciklas hit a grounder in the hole at shortstop, with Ernie Clement (Jr., Rochester, N.Y.) making a diving stop but then throwing errantly to second, leaving all hands safe. UVA went to Alec Bettinger (Sr., Woodbridge, Va.) out of the bullpen, and Max Miller hit a first-pitch single to tie the game. Bettinger struck out Jalen Phillips for the second out, but Chris Proctor singled to left on a 3-2 pitch for a 4-2 lead.

UVA cut the lead to a run in the seventh as Knight hit a leadoff double, moved to third on a Nate Eikhoff (So., Bristow, Va.) grounder to second and scored on an Andy Weber (So., Aurora, Ohio) grounder to second. The Cavaliers put the leadoff batter on base in both the eighth and ninth innings but were unable to come up with the tying score.