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May 18, 2013

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C.– The No. 7 Virginia baseball team scored four runs in the 11th inning and then held off a furious North Carolina rally in the bottom of the inning to claim a wild 8-7 victory over the second-ranked Tar Heels Saturday afternoon in front of a sellout crowd of 4,100 at Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill. Virginia (45-9, 22-8 ACC) won the series, two games to one, and captured eight of its 10 ACC series this year.

The Cavaliers will compete in the ACC Baseball Championship next week. UVa has earned the No. 3 seed and will share a pool with No. 2 seed Florida State, No. 6 seed Virginia Tech and No. 7 seed Georgia Tech. The tournament runs Wednesday through Sunday (May 22-26) in Durham, N.C. Full brackets and game times will be announced Sunday morning.

Virginia earned its first series win at North Carolina since March 17-18, 2007, while handing the Tar Heels (47-8, 21-7 ACC) their first home series loss of the year. With 45 wins UVa has matched the program record for most regular-season wins; the 2006, 2010 and 2011 teams also went into postseason play with 45 victories.

UVa finished with eight hits, with Joe McCarthy (Fr., Scranton, Pa.) and Reed Gragnani(Sr., Richmond, Va.) each picking up two hits. The Cavaliers went hitless from the second through seventh innings before picking up seven hits over the final four innings. Colin Moran went 4-for-5 with three RBI to highlight the Tar Heels’ 13-hit day.

Virginia relief pitcher David Rosenberger(Fr., Bethlehem, Pa.), the fifth UVa pitcher of the day, earned the win and improved to 2-0 after tossing the final two innings for the Cavaliers. UNC’s Chris McCue (6-1) was saddled with the loss after giving up a pair of runs (one earned) in the top of the 11th.

Virginia starting pitcher Whit Mayberry(R-Jr., Alexandria, Va.) worked five strong innings, allowing an earned run and five hits while failing to walk a batter. North Carolina starter Hobbs Johnson also had a great outing, working 7 1/3 innings, allowing three earned runs, two hits and three walks while striking out four.

For the second straight day, North Carolina rallied from a three-run deficit in the eighth inning. UNC scored twice in the eighth and once in the ninth to send the game to extra innings and set up a crazy 11th inning.

Virginia scored four times in the top of the 11th. Facing McCue, Nick Howard (So., Olney, Md.) drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a bunt single by Gragnani. Nate Irving (So., Yonkers, N.Y.) then laid down a sacrifice bunt against reliever Chris Munnelly, who fired to Moran at third, but he dropped the ball for an error, with Howard scampering home while Gragnani and Irving advanced a base each. John LaPrise (Fr., Exton, Pa.) then launched a triple to right-center, scoring both runners on his first career extra-base hit. One out later Jared King(R-Sr., Radford, Va.) singled to center to give UVa an 8-4 lead.

UNC did not go quietly. Mike Zolk and Parks Jordan hit back-to-back singles to start the inning, and Jordan was erased when Chaz Frank grounded into a fielder’s choice as Gragnani made a nice sliding stop at second. Landon Lassiter reached on a Howard throwing error, with Zolk scoring to cut the lead to 8-5. Moran lined the next pitch to center for a run-scoring single while sending Lassiter to third. Skye Bolt then launched a long fly to left-center, sending Mike Papi(So., Tunkhannock, Pa.) to the wall, where he made a jumping catch near the top of the wall. Lassiter scored on the sac fly, but pinch runner Michael Massardo already had rounded second base was nearing third, and the Cavaliers threw to first to finish the double play and pick up the game’s final out.

Virginia jumped out to a 1-0 lead as Johnson labored through a 38-pitch first inning. Papi drew a leadoff walk and moved to third one out later as Joe McCarthy singled to right-center and Skye Bolt booted the ball to allow both runners to advance a base. With two outs Derek Fisher drew a walk to load the bases, and Johnson hit Nick Howardwith the 0-2 pitch, forcing Papi home.

North Carolina knotted the score in the fourth inning. Moran led off with a triple and scored on a Bolt groundout to shortstop.

Virginia came up with two clutch two-out hits to take a 4-1 lead in the eighth inning. After Johnson retired 19 straight batters dating to the first inning, Nate Irving snapped the string with a leadoff bunt single. He advanced on a LaPrise sacrifice. UNC closer Trent Thornton took the mound and struck out King before McCarthy hit a 2-2 pitch to left field for a single, plating Irving to give UVa a 2-1 lead. Brandon Downes(So., South Plainfield, N.J.) ripped the next pitch to right for a double, scoring a pair to push the lead to 4-1.

UNC responded by scoring a pair of runs in its half of the eighth to cut the lead to 4-3. Jordan and Frank hit back-to-back singles off Nathan Kirby (Fr., Midlothian, Va.) to start the inning. With a 1-0 count, Austin Young (Jr., Mechanicsville, Va.) entered the game and went on to walk Lassiter to load the bases with none out. Josh Sborz(Fr., McLean, Va.) came in to pitch and walked Moran on four pitches to force in a run. Bolt struck out for the first out, but Cody Stubbs grounded into a fielder’s choice, scoring Frank. Sborz hit Michael Russell with a pitch to again load the bases, but Brian Holberton hit a lazy fly ball to center field to end the threat.

The Tar Heels tied the game in the ninth with a two-out rally. Frank drew a two-out walk and moved to second when Lassiter grounded back to the mound and off the glove an outstretched Sborz for an infield single. Moran then lined a single to center, scoring Frank with the tying run. Sborz rebounded to get Bolt to hit a comebacker to the mound to send the game to extra innings.

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