Walk off! No. 10 UVA tops Liberty, 8-7, on Novak single
Justin Novak (Jr., Tokyo, Japan) hit a walk-off single to score Jalen Harrison (Fr., Palmyra, Va.) in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift the No. 10 Virginia baseball team to an 8-7 win over Liberty Tuesday evening at Davenport Field. Virginia (36-11) earned its first walk-off victory of the season and finished on a high note as it heads into a nine-day break for final exams.
Jake McCarthy (So., Scranton, Pa.) went 3-for-4 and was on base four times while leading Virginia’s 14-hit night. Novak, Cameron Simmons (So., Royersford, Pa.) and Pavin Smith (Jr., Jupiter, Fla.) each had two hits and two RBI, while Nate Eikhoff (So., Bristow, Va.) also racked up a pair of hits.
Virginia reliever Alec Bettinger (Sr., Woodbridge, Va.) worked the ninth inning and picked up the win, improving to 7-0 on the year. UVA starter Derek Casey (Jr., Mechanicsville, Va.) worked 3 2/3 innings, allowing four runs and seven hits while striking out four.
Liberty reliever Jack DeGroat (0-2) took the loss after allowing the winning run. Flames starter Caleb Evans pitched 2 1/3 innings, giving up three runs, five hits and a walk.
Virginia jumped to a 2-0 lead in the second inning, getting a sacrifice fly from Charlie Cody (Jr., Chesapeake, Va.) and a run-scoring double to center from Novak.
Liberty (26-16) countered by reeling off five straight hits to start the third inning. With two runners on base, Jake Barbee, Trey McDyre and Sammy Taormina hit consecutive RBI singles, and Andrew Kowalo and Eric Grabowski followed with run-scoring groundouts.
UVA got a run back in its half of the third as McCarthy tripled into the right-field corner on the first pitch of the inning and came home on a single to left from Smith.
Payton Scarbrough hit a one-out solo homer in the sixth inning to give Liberty a 5-3 edge.
Virginia used a two-out rally to score three runs in the seventh inning to grab a 6-5 lead. After McCarthy singled and stole second, Smith walked. Robbie Coman (Gr., Lake Worth, Fla.) hit a run-scoring single to left-center. After Caleb Knight (Jr., Checotah, Okla.) walked to load the bases, Simmons doubled to left-center, scoring Smith and Coman.
UVA added a run in the eighth as McCarthy singled and then scored on Smith’s double to left-center. That run proved key in the ninth as the Flames, down to their final strike, tied the game on a two-run single to left by McDyre.
The Cavaliers bounced back in the ninth. Knight hit a leadoff single, with Harrison pinch running and advancing on a Simmons sacrifice. Eikhoff was intentionally walked, but DeGroat then walked Cody to load the bases. Zander Clouse came on in relief, but Novak pounced on the first pitch and lined it into left field for the winning hit.
After the exam break, Virginia plays host to Miami May 12-14 in a three-game ACC series. The Cavaliers wrap up the regular season the following week, entertaining Richmond (May 16) before traveling to Georgia Tech (May 18-20).