No. 4 Cavaliers Rally to Upend No. 2 Georgia Tech, 7-4
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The No. 4 Virginia baseball team rallied for four runs in the seventh inning to defeat No. 2 Georgia Tech, 7-4, Friday night in front of 4,155 fans – the largest crowd in the history of Davenport Field. The top-five matchup also was the first in stadium history.
Stephen Bruno (Fr., Audubon, N.J.) hit a go-ahead two-run single in the seventh inning off reigning ACC Pitcher of the Year Deck McGuire to give Virginia a 5-4 lead, and one out later Dan Grovatt (Jr., Tabernacle, N.J.) hit a two-run home run off reliever Jake Davies to cap the comeback.
The starting pitching matchup was highly touted, as reigning All-Americans McGuire and Danny Hultzen (So., Bethesda, Md.) toed the rubber. Hultzen (5-1) earned the win with seven solid innings. He allowed four earned runs, six hits and two walks while striking out 11. McGuire (5-2) took the loss after giving up six earned runs, six hits and four walks with six strikeouts in 6.2 innings.
Virginia pitchers recorded 17 strikeouts – most by any team in an ACC game this season. Tyler Wilson (Jr., Midlothian, Va.) and Kevin Arico (Jr., Flemington, N.J.) struck out the side in the eighth and ninth inning, respectively. Arico notched his 11th save, which is tied for third most in a single season in Virginia history.
Virginia (26-6, 9-4 ACC) recorded nine hits, with five coming in the decisive seventh inning. Tyler Cannon (Sr., Pigeon Forge, Tenn.) homered as part of a two-hit night, while John Hicks (So., Sandy Hook, Va.) and Keith Werman (So., Vienna, Va.) each had a pair of hits.
The close game was just another in the recent history between Virginia and Georgia Tech. Seventeen of the last 20 games between the two teams have been decided by three runs or fewer.
Georgia Tech (26-4, 11-2) had an early opportunity to score first, as the Yellow Jackets put runners on first and third with one out in the first inning, but Hultzen rebounded to strike out Cole Leonida and Matt Skole to squelch the threat. Virginia then got on the board in the bottom of the first. With one out, Cannon ripped a solo home run over the right-field wall for his second home run of the year. It marked his first career home run from the left side of the plate.
UVa scored again in the fourth. With one out and Bruno at second and Steven Proscia (So., Suffern, N.Y.) at first, McGuire fired an errant pickoff throw to first and when the ball rolled down the line, Bruno scored from second and Proscia moved to third. UVa went on to load the bases, but McGuire forced Franco Valdes (Sr., Miami, Fla.) to pop out to second to end the threat.
Georgia Tech, ranked second nationally in home runs, used the long ball to take the lead in a four-run fifth inning. With two out and runners at second and third, Tony Plagman cranked a Hultzen offering over the center field fence, just to the right of the Blue Monster, to give the Yellow Jackets their first lead at 3-2. Leonida followed with a solo blast to right field to push the advantage to 4-2. Hultzen had allowed just one home run this season prior to the fifth inning.
Virginia got a run back in the sixth with a long ball of its own. With one out, Proscia drilled a towering home run high into the left-field bleachers. The homer was Proscia’s fourth of the season.
The Cavaliers then put up a four-spot in the seventh inning. Werman led off with a single and one out later moved to second on a Cannon single. A wild pitch moved both runners up 90 feet before Bruno smoked a single up the middle to score the runners and give the Cavaliers the lead back, 5-4. Proscia then reached on a fielder’s choice, and the southpaw Davies entered the game to face the left-handed Grovatt, who launched a 2-0 pitch over the center-field wall to push the UVa lead to 7-4.
The teams will play the second game of the series at 4 p.m. Saturday. The finale will be played at noon Sunday. Large crowds are anticipated for both games, and fans are encouraged to arrive early.