CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia baseball team received a strong start from right-hander Branden Kline (Jr., Frederick, Md.) and rallied from an early three-run deficit to top Wake Forest, 9-4, Saturday afternoon in the first game of a three-game ACC series at Davenport Field. Virginia (20-10-1, 7-6 ACC) extended its home win streak to 12 games.
Game 2 is set for 1 p.m. Sunday, and the series culminates with a 7 p.m. Monday game that will be televised nationally on ESPNU as part of the network’s ACC Monday package.
Kline (5-2) worked 7.0 innings, allowing three earned runs, five hits and three walks while striking out eight to earn the win. Kline retired nine straight batters from the second to fifth innings and 17 of the final 19 batters he faced.
Stephen Bruno (Jr., Audubon, N.J.) and Nick Howard (Fr., Olney, Md.) each picked up three hits for Virginia, while Derek Fisher (Fr., Rexmont, Pa.) had a double, triple and three RBI. With his sixth-inning triple, Fisher tied the UVa single-season record with his eighth triple of 2012.
Wake Forest starting pitcher Tim Cooney (3-3) tossed 5.1 innings, giving up eight runs (five earned), nine hits and three walks while striking out five in taking the loss. The Demon Deacons committed four errors, and also had a passed ball which allowed a run to score. Pat Blair posted three hits to pace the Wake Forest offense.
Wake (19-12, 5-8) jumped Kline for three first-inning runs. Blair and Conor Keniry hit back-to-back doubles to open the game and bring in the first run. Kline nearly got out the early jam, but after loading the bases with a pair of two-out walks he surrendered a two-run double to Mark Rhine to give the Demon Deacons a 3-0 lead.
UVa quickly got a run back in its half of the first when Chris Taylor (Jr., Virginia Beach, Va.) launched a leadoff home run into the bleachers in left-center field. It was his fourth homer of the year as well as his third career long ball to lead off a game.
The Cavaliers moved ahead with a three-run second inning. Nate Irving (Fr., Yonkers, N.Y.) was plunked by a pitch to lead off the inning before Mitchell Shifflett (So., Midlothian, Va.) drew a walk. One out later Taylor loaded the bases with an infield single. A Cooney wild pitch plated Irving, and Colin Harrington (Jr., Johnstown, Pa.) followed with a groundout to tie the game. Bruno then singled to right-center to score Taylor and give UVa a 4-3 advantage.
UVa took advantage of Wake Forest miscues to get a run in the fourth. Blair committed an error at shortstop on Harrington’s two-out grounder. After a Bruno single and a Jared King (Sr., Radford, Va.) walk loaded the bases, Harrington scooted home when catcher Brett Armour committed a passed ball.
Virginia struck for three runs in the sixth. Harrington reached on a leadoff error and Bruno was hit by a pitch. King then reached when Armour errantly threw to first on a sacrifice bunt, but first baseman Carlos Lopez picked up the loose ball and fired to Cooney, who was covering home, to tag out Harrington as he attempted to score. Fisher then cranked a triple to right-center to score both runners and give UVa a 7-3 lead. It was Fisher’s eighth triple of the year, tying the single-season school record set by Jarrett Parker in 2010.
Cooney then was lifted in favor of Nate Jones, but Howard greeted him on the first pitch with his third single of the day, which scored Fisher and pushed the Cavaliers’ lead to 8-3.
UVa added a run in the eighth on a ground-rule double to right by Fisher, which scored Bruno. After going seven scoreless innings, Wake broke through with two outs in the ninth on a run-scoring single by Blair.