CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Mitchell Shifflett (So., Midlothian, Va.) hit a two-out single in the eighth inning to score Nate Irving (Fr., Yonkers, N.Y.) and break a 3-all tie, lifting the Virginia baseball team to a 4-3 triumph over visiting Virginia Tech Saturday afternoon at Davenport Field.
The Cavaliers (8-5-1, 1-1 ACC) staged a two-out rally in the eighth inning, as Irving singled through the right side of the infield with two outs, then advanced on a wild pitch. He scored easily when Shifflett stroked his second hit of the day, a single to right field.
Shifflett went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI for UVa, while Nick Howard (Fr., Olney, Md.) was 2-for-4 and scored twice. Colin Harrington (Jr., Johnstown, Pa.) and Stephen Bruno (Jr., Audubon, N.J.) each added two singles. Andrew Rash homered and had two of the Hokies’ four hits.
Virginia pitchers were strong, particularly over the last seven innings. After giving up a leadoff homer to Mark Zagunis in the third, UVa pitchers retired 21 of the final 24 batters.
Virginia relief pitcher Shane Halley (Sr., Burke, Va.) pitched 2.0 shutout innings and earned the win to improve to 1-1 in 2012. Justin Thompson (Sr., Danville, Va.) tossed a perfect ninth inning to nab his first save. UVa starter Scott Silverstein (Sr., Olney, Md.) struck out a career-high nine batters over 6.0 strong innings. He gave up three earned runs, three hits and two walks.
Virginia Tech reliever Jake Atwell (0-1) took the loss after pitching the eighth inning and allowing the go-ahead score. Hokie starter Joe Mantiply fired 7.0 innings, allowing three earned runs, nine hits and a walk while striking out one.
Virginia Tech (12-3, 1-1) took advantage of a leadoff walk to Gabe Ortiz to score the game’s first run in the second inning. Ortiz stole second and moved to third on a Chad Morgan sacrifice. He scored on a suicide squeeze by Alex Perez.
UVa countered with a pair of runs in its half of the second. Howard hit a leadoff single and moved to second with one out on a single by Shifflett. Keith Werman (Sr., Vienna, Va.) bunted his way on to load the bases, and Chris Taylor (Jr., Virginia Beach, Va.) followed with a sacrifice fly to center to score Howard and move Shifflett to third. With Harrington at the plate, Werman attempted to steal second and, as the throw went to second, Werman threw on the brakes and Shifflett broke for the plate, scoring easily.
Zagunis homered into the left-field bleachers to lead off the third, and the next 11 Hokies were retired in order before Rash hit an 0-2 Silverstein pitch over the left-center field wall with two outs in the sixth inning.
Virginia again responded in its half of the sixth inning. Jared King (Sr., Radford, Va.) led off with a walk and Howard singled to right. Irving bunted into force out at third base for the first out, but Howard and Irving combined on a double steal. Shifflett then grounded out to a diving Johnny Morales at shortstop to score Howard and knot the score.
The teams will play the rubber game of the series at 1 p.m. Sunday.