CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The No. 25 Virginia baseball team scored five times in the sixth inning to erase a one-run deficit and top No. 15 Miami, 7-3, in the opener of a three-game series at a soggy Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field in Coral Gables, Fla. The win was Virginia’s fifth in a row and its third straight in ACC play.
Derek Fisher (Fr., Rexmont, Pa.), Colin Harrington (Jr., Johnstown, Pa.), Kenny Towns (Fr., Burke, Va.) and Keith Werman (Sr., Vienna, Va.) each recorded two hits for Virginia (29-14-1, 12-10 ACC).
Virginia starting pitcher Branden Kline (Jr., Frederick, Md.) struggled with his control all day but battled to pitch 5.0 innings and earn the win to improve to 6-3 this year. Kline allowed three earned runs, four hits and five walks while striking out eight.
The Virginia bullpen was excellent once again. Kyle Crockett (So., Poquoson, Va.) went 3.1 scoreless innings while striking out four. Justin Thompson (Sr., Danville, Va.) struck out the final two batters of the game to finish off the win.
Miami starter Eric Erickson (6-5) worked 5.1 innings and gave up seven runs, although only two were earned. He allowed nine hits and two walks and struck out one. Miami (27-15, 12-10) committed four errors and finished with five hits.
The first two innings were played in a steady rain, leading up to a 42-minute rain delay before the start of the third inning.
Virginia quickly jumped on Erickson for a run in the third right after the delay. Werman hit the first pitch to left for a single. Chris Taylor (Jr., Virginia Beach, Va.) bounced back from an 0-2 hole to walk, and Harrington bunted the runners to second and third. Stephen Bruno (Jr., Audubon, N.J.) hit a rocket right to third baseman Brad Fieger for the second out, but Fisher followed with an infield single that caromed off the leg of Erickson, scoring Werman for a 1-0 UVa lead.
Werman was key as the Cavaliers scored again in the fourth inning. Brandon Downes (Fr., South Plainfield, N.J.) singled with one out and stole second on the next pitch. One out later Werman slapped a triple down the left-field line to push the Cavaliers’ lead to 2-0.
The Hurricanes tied the game in their half of the fourth. Kline walked Brad Fieger with one out, and with Fieger running on the 3-2 pitch, Dale Carey doubled down the left-field line to score the runner. Alex San Juan hit a bloop single to move Carey to third, and a passed ball allowed Carey to score.
Virginia took advantage of three Miami errors to score five times in the sixth inning. All five runs were unearned as UVa sent 11 batters to the plate. Towns hit a leadoff single, and Downes reached on an error by Stephen Perez at shortstop. Nate Irving (Fr., Yonkers, N.Y.) then laid down a sacrifice bunt, but Erickson chucked it wild down the right-field line, allowing both runners to score and moving Irving to second. Werman put down a sacrifice to move Irving to third. Taylor followed with an RBI single and moved to third when left fielder Rony Rodriguez misplayed the ball for a two-base error. Harrington doubled to left on the next pitch to score Taylor and knock Erickson from the game.
Reliever E.J. Encinosa entered the game and hit Bruno with the first pitch. One out later, he walked Jared King (Sr., Radford, Va.) to load the bases and then plunked Towns with the 1-0 pitch to force in Harrington with the fifth run of the inning to give UVa a 7-3 edge.
Game 2 of the series is slated for 7 p.m. Sunday and will be televised by CSS (CSN Mid-Atlantic in Virginia). WINA 1070-AM will have the local radio coverage.