GREENVILLE, N.C. – Kenny Towns (So., Burke, Va.) launched a pair of grand slams and drove in eight runs as the No. 25 Virginia baseball team opened its 2013 season with 14-4 victory over East Carolina Friday afternoon in front of 3,511 at Clark-LeClair Stadium in Greenville, N.C.
Game 2 of the series has been moved to 10 a.m. Saturday because of a threat for inclement weather.
Towns cranked grand slams in the first and seventh innings – both to the opposite field. They marked his first two career home runs; he entered the year with 12 career RBI. He recorded the most RBI by a UVa player since Brandon Guyerracked up nine on March 13, 2007, against Niagara.
Branden Cogswell (So., Ballston Lake, N.Y.) added three hits and scored three times for Virginia, while Brandon Downes(So., South Plainfield, N.J.) drove in three runs. The Cavaliers had runners on base in every inning.
Three Virginia freshman pitchers combined to scatter eight hits in their first career appearances. Josh Sborz (McLean, Va.) worked 2 1/3 innings out of the bullpen to earn the win. UVa starting pitcher Brandon Waddell (Houston, Texas) fired 4 2/3 solid innings, giving up two runs (one earned), five hits and two walks while fanning five. David Rosenberger(Bethlehem, Pa.) tossed the final two innings to finish off the win.
ECU starting pitcher Jeff Hoffman worked 4 2/3 innings, allowing four earned runs, four hits and four walks while striking out seven in taking the loss.
Virginia started fast when Towns cranked an opposite-field grand slam to right field with two outs in the first to score Cogswell, Derek Fisher (So., Rexmont, Pa.) and Joe McCarthy(Fr., Scranton, Pa.).
ECU chipped a run from the lead in its half of the first, getting a 2-out single from Jay Cannon before Nick Thompson, after an extended at bat, lofted a shallow fly ball to center, which a hard-charging Downes dropped to allow Cannon to score from first.
ECU added a run in the fifth inning. With two outs and runners on the corners, Waddell was lifted for Sborz. Chase McDonald greeted the freshman with a ringing double to left field to score a run, but Sborz buckled down to force pinch hitter Dylan Brown to pop out to end the inning.
Virginia quickly countered in the sixth as Cogswell led off with a single and scored on a hit-and-run double to right-center by Jared King(R-Sr., Radford, Va.). Fisher grounded to first to move King to third, and Downes followed with a single to right-center to bring King home.
ECU took advantage of a pair of UVa miscues to get a run back and cut the lead to 6-3 in its half of the sixth. Bryan Bass hit a 1-out single and moved all the way to third when Fisher’s throw back into the infield sailed into the stands. Travis Watkins then reached on an errant throw by second baseman Reed Gragnani(Sr., Richmond, Va.), with Bass scoring on the play.
Virginia blew the game open with an eight-run seventh, doing all of its damage after two were out. Cogswell recorded his third hit, an RBI single, before King walked to load the bases. Fisher was hit by a pitch to force in a run, and Downes followed with a 2-run double. After McCarthy walked on four pitches, Towns crushed Hayden White’s next offering over the right-center field wall for his second grand slam, giving UVa a 14-3 edge.
ECU added an eighth-inning run on a Jack Reinheimer solo home run off Rosenberger.