ATLANTA – The No. 1-ranked Virginia baseball team piled up 15 hits in scoring a 12-9 win over No. 8 Georgia Tech Saturday evening in front of 3,025 at Russ Chandler Stadium in Atlanta. In winning its 12th straight game and 11th consecutive road contest, Virginia (31-2, 13-1 ACC) clinched the series with Georgia Tech (23-9, 11-3) and will go for the series sweep at noon Sunday.
In a night full of offensive fireworks, the relief effort of right-hander Justin Thompson (Jr., Danville, Va.) loomed larger. Inserted with the bases loaded and three runs in during the fifth inning, Thompson (2-0) shut the Yellow Jackets down until the ninth inning and worked 4.1 innings while striking out eight – both career highs – as he earned the win. He allowed his first earned runs in 20.2 innings in the ninth inning.
Georgia Tech starter Jed Bradley (3-1) worked 4.2 innings, allowing a season-high seven earned runs, eight hits and two walks while striking out five in taking the loss. The Yellow Jackets used seven pitchers in the contest. UVa starter Tyler Wilson (Sr., Midlothian, Va.) pitched 4.1 innings, giving up five earned runs, five hits and four walks while fanning one.
Virginia’s offense was productive throughout the lineup. Eight of the nine starters recorded at least one hit, while each starter had at least one RBI or a run scored. John Barr (Sr., Ivyland, Pa.) and John Hicks (Jr., Sandy Hook, Va.) each notched three hits, while Barr had a team-high three RBI. UVa racked up six doubles in the win.
Georgia Tech jumped ahead early with a two-run second inning. The Yellow Jackets loaded the bases with none out before Sam Dove and Mott Hyde hit back-to-back sacrifice flies.
Virginia promptly responded with two runs in the third inning while doing all its damage after two were out. Keith Werman (Jr., Vienna, Va.) started the rally by drawing a walk and Chris Taylor (So., Virginia Beach, Va.) was hit by a pitch. Barr and Hicks then hit singles on consecutive pitches, with each scoring a run to tie the game.
The Cavaliers forced Bradley from the game in a five-run fifth inning. With one out five straight Cavaliers reached base. Barr was hit by a pitch. Hicks singled to center and Steven Proscia (Jr., Suffern, N.Y.) hit a ground-rule double to center on an 0-2 pitch, scoring Barr. Jared King (Jr., Radford, Va.) then roped a double to left field, scoring both runners. After Reed Gragnani (So., Richmond, Va.) singled, Tyler Biddix (Sr., Richmond, Va.) grounded out to bring home King, and Colin Harrington (So., Johnstown, Pa.) followed with a ground-rule double to right-center to plate Gragnani and give UVa a 7-2 lead.
Georgia Tech came right back in its half of the fifth inning with three runs. With one out and Kyle Wren on first base, Jacob Esch singled to center, and Matt Skole followed with a run-scoring single. Freshman lefty Kyle Crockett (Poquoson, Va.) relieved Wilson and gave up a run-scoring single to Kyle Davies before striking out Palka. Zane Evans followed with an RBI single to right before Brandon Thomas walked to load the bases. Justin Thompson came on in relief and needed just one pitch to retire Dove on a comebacker to the mound to end the inning.
The Cavaliers got a run back in the sixth. Taylor led off with a double against reliever Taylor Wood. Kevin Jacob then took the hill and struck out Barr. Hicks then launched a high fly to center field, where Wren lost the ball and it dropped for a double, scoring Taylor.
Virginia added on in the seventh, putting three more runs on the board. Gragnani was hit by a 3-2 pitch to lead off and Biddix drew a walk. Jacob was replaced by Brad Markey, who retired Harrington on a sacrifice bunt. With the infield pulled in, Werman cranked a single back up the middle, scoring both runners. One out later Barr singled to right to plate Werman and push the lead to 11-5.
The Cavaliers tacked on a run in the ninth inning on a Barr single which scored Werman.
Georgia Tech broke Thompson’s 20.1-inning scoreless streak in the ninth inning. With one out Esch and Skole hit consecutive singles. Davies then grounded to Werman, who booted the ball and then threw it away for a double error. Esch scored on the play. Palka followed by drilling a three-run homer into the evergreens in right field, cutting the lead to 12-9. Thompson rebounded by striking out the final two batters on just six pitches.
UVa goes for the series sweep at noon Sunday. The game 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.