ATLANTA – Virginia ace Danny Hultzen (Jr., Bethesda, Md.) out-dueled Georgia Tech phenom Mark Pope, and David Coleman (Sr., Richmond, Va.) hit a game-changing three-run home run in the seventh inning as the top-ranked Virginia baseball team rallied to defeat the No. 8 Yellow Jackets 6-2 Friday evening at Russ Chandler Stadium in Atlanta.
Virginia (30-2, 12-1 ACC) won its 11th straight game as it continued the best start in program history. The Cavaliers broke a school record by winning their 10th consecutive road game, dating to the final two road games of the 2010 season. UVa is now 8-0 on the road this season.
Hultzen and Pope locked up in a fantastic pitchers’ duel. Through six innings the two teams combined for only five hits (GT 4, UVa 1) before the Cavaliers rallied in the seventh.
Hultzen (7-0) worked a season-high 8.0 innings as he earned the win and matched Jacob Thompson (2006-08) for the UVa career wins record with his 27th career victory (27-2). Hultzen allowed two runs (one earned), seven hits and one walk and struck out a dozen. He recorded his 13th career game with 10 or more strikeouts (UVa is 13-0 in those games).
Virginia’s all-time strikeouts leader, Hultzen now has 320 career strikeouts and has moved into a 16th-place tie with Miami’s Chris Hernandez (2008-10) and Florida State’s Jon McDonald (1998-2000) on the all-time ACC strikeouts list. Branden Kline (So., Frederick, Md.) picked up the final three outs for Virginia.
Pope (7-1) fired 7.2 innings, allowing four earned runs, seven hits and two walks while striking out six. He had allowed just four earned runs coming into the contest.
The start of the game was delayed two hours, 21 minutes because of a power failure in one of the banks of lights at the stadium, but it didn’t seem to affect either of the starters, who came out dealing.
Georgia Tech (23-8, 11-2) broke the stalemate with a run in the fifth inning. Sam Dove led off with a single up the middle. One out later Mott Hyde hit an 0-2 pitch into the left-field corner to move Dove to third. Hultzen then struck out Chase Butler on a wicked offspeed pitch. On a 3-1 pitch, Kyle Wren laid down a bunt down the third-base line and beat it out, scoring Dove to give the Yellow Jackets a 1-0 lead.
After recording just one hit through the first six innings, Virginia solved Pope in the seventh inning. John Hicks (Jr., Sandy Hook, Va.) lined a single to left to lead off and Ryan Levine (So., Hackensack, N.J.) reached on an infield single. With the runners in motion, Steven Proscia (Jr., Suffern, N.Y.) grounded out. Coleman then deposited Pope’s 1-0 pitch over the wall in right-center field for his second homer of the season. It marked the first long ball allowed by Pope this year.
Virginia tacked on an insurance run in the eighth, taking advantage of a leadoff walk to John Barr (Sr., Ivyland, Pa.) when Proscia lined a single to right-center to score Barr and push the lead to 4-1.
Georgia Tech took advantage of UVa mistakes to score in its half of the eighth. Wren led off with a blooper to left; shortstop Chris Taylor (So., Virginia Beach, Va.) went a long way to make the play and had the ball in his glove before colliding with the left fielder Barr, which jarred the ball loose and allowed Wren to reach second for a double. One out later Matt Skole reached on a throwing error by Taylor, with Wren scoring from second base. UVa escaped further damage by turning a 4-6-3 double play.
The Cavaliers rebounded by scoring a pair of runs in the ninth. With one out Mitchell Shifflett (Fr., Richmond, Va.) doubled down the right-field line – his first career extra-base hit. He moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a hit by Keith Werman (Jr., Vienna, Va.) – his third hit of the day, a bunt single down the first-base line. Taylor followed with a single to left-center, and Barr reached on a fielder’s choice; the throw from second base was wild on the play, and Werman slid in safely to give the Cavaliers a 6-2 advantage.
The teams will play the second game of the series at 6 p.m. Saturday before wrapping up the weekend slate at noon Sunday. Both games will be broadcast on WINA 1070-AM in Charlottesville and VirginiaSports.com (through Virginia Sports Online Radio subscription). Live statistics also will be available at VirginiaSports.com.