Hicks Walk-Off Homer Propels No. 1 Cavaliers to 5-3 Win Over UNC
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – John Hicks (So., Sandy Hook, Va.) hit a three-run walk-off home run in the ninth inning as the top-ranked Virginia baseball team rallied to defeat No. 21 North Carolina, 5-3, Sunday afternoon at Davenport Field. Virginia won its 14th straight game and, in sweeping its first-ever three-game series from North Carolina, swept its third-consecutive ACC series.
Virginia drew a sellout crowd of 4,825 for the game – UVa’s sixth sellout of the season. For the weekend, a UVa record 13,294 fans attended the three-game series. With the win, UVa matched a program record with its 21st ACC victory of the year.
Virginia (43-9, 21-6 ACC) had just four singles and trailed 3-0 through six innings before staging its comeback. Down 3-2 entering the bottom of the ninth, the Cavaliers strung together three straight hits. Steven Proscia (So., Suffern, N.Y.) hit a leadoff single off Greg Holt and aggressively moved around to third on a Jarrett Parker (Jr., Stafford, Va.) single to short right-center field.
Hicks then pulled Colin Bates’ second pitch deep to left field; the ball was curving and just clipped the inside of the foul pole to send the Cavaliers to the 5-3 win. The walk-off dinger was the first for Virginia since David Adams hit a three-run walk-off homer to beat Georgia Tech on April 14, 2007.
The comeback likely would not have been possible if it weren’t for 5.1 shutout innings of relief pitching from Tyler Wilson (Jr., Midlothian, Va.). Wilson (6-2) earned the win and allowed just two baserunners and struck out a pair while tossing a career-high 5.1 innings. Holt (3-3) took the loss after giving up two earned runs and three hits in 1.1 innings.
Virginia starting pitcher Cody Winiarski (Jr., Franksville, Wis.) tossed 3.2 innings, giving up three earned runs, five hits and five walks while striking out three. UNC starter Patrick Johnson worked 6.2 innings, giving up two earned runs, seven hits and one walk while striking out three.
After two scoreless innings, North Carolina (32-20, 11-16) broke the deadlock in the third inning on back-to-back solo home runs by Levi Michael and Brian Goodwin with two outs. The Tar Heels then added a run in the third on Michael’s two-out single to plate Mike Cavasinni.
Virginia got on the board in the seventh inning with a pair of solo homers. Dan Grovatt (Jr., Tabernacle, N.J.) led off the inning with his sixth homer of the year – all in ACC games. One out later, Parker clubbed his eighth home run of the season into the bleachers in right-center field. With the long ball, Parker moved into a 10th-place tie on the all-time UVa home runs ledger with his 24th career home run. He ties Adam Robinson, who hit 24 home runs from 1994-97.
Virginia wraps up its 2010 home schedule at 6 p.m. Tuesday when it entertains VMI. The Cavaliers finish the regular season at Miami Thursday through Saturday. UVa enters the final weekend of ACC play with a two-game lead over Miami and Georgia Tech in the ACC Coastal Division.