March 8, 2014
DURHAM, N.C. – The No. 1-ranked Virginia baseball team opened ACC play Saturday with a doubleheader split at Duke at Jack Coombs Field in Durham, N.C. The Cavaliers (10-3, 1-1 ACC) took game one, 3-2, before the Blue Devils (8-6, 1-1) rebounded to take the nightcap by the same count.
Highlighted by six shutout innings from Nathan Kirby (So., Midlothian, Va.) in the opener, Virginia pitchers allowed just five hits in the twinbill, including only one in the back end of the doubleheader, but nine walks doomed the Cavaliers in the second game.
Virginia gave up just one infield single in the bizarre evening game. UVa pitchers walked nine batters in the game, the most allowed by the Cavaliers’ pitching staff since a 10-walk performance on Feb. 22, 2012 against William and Mary.
Duke starting pitcher Andrew Istler (2-2) flummoxed the Virginia offense, allowing just two runs (one earned), five hits and three walks in eight-plus innings. He struck out three. Robert Huber pitched the ninth inning and worked out of a bases loaded, one-out jam to earn his third save.
UVa starting pitcher Josh Sborz (So., McLean, Va.) battled control problems all evening, walking eight batters in 3 2/3 innings. Sborz (3-1) did not allow a hit and struck out three in taking the loss. Duke did not record its first hit until the eighth inning, a one-out infield single from Jordan Betts.
Virginia managed just six hits of its own, with Daniel Pinero (Fr., Toronto, Ontario) recording a pair of hits.
Duke took advantage of Sborz’s control problems in the second inning to score a run without a hit. Sborz walked the first two batters. After a Mark Lumpa sacrifice bunt, Reed Anthes hit a slow grounder to third base and John La Prise (So., Exton, Pa.) took the safe out at first, with Chris Marconcini scoring.
Virginia scored twice in the third inning. La Prise and Pinero hit back-to-back singles to start the inning and were sacrificed over by Mike Papi (Jr., Tunkhannock, Pa.). Branden Cogswell (Jr., Ballston Lake, N.Y.) hit a slow grounder to second base to tie the game, and shortstop Kenny Koplove made an errant throw on a Derek Fisher (Jr., Rexmont, Pa.) ground ball, with UVa taking a 2-1 lead.
Duke grabbed the lead back as Sborz and reliever David Rosenberger (So., Bethlehem, Pa.) each battled control issues. After getting two quick outs, Sborz then walked four straight batters, with a bases on balls to Andy Perez forcing in a run. Rosenberger entered the game and issued a free pass to Aaron Cohn to bring home another run. UVa avoided further damage when Grant McCabe blooped a ball into right-center, but Cogswell ranged out and made an outstanding over-the-shoulder basket catch to save a hit as well as further damage.
Connor Jones (Fr., Chesapeake, Va.) kept the game in reach with 2 2/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
Virginia threatened in the ninth inning, loading the bases with one out, to no avail. Joe McCarthy (So., Scranton, Pa.) led off with a single to right-center, spelling the end of the night for Istler. Huber struck out Matt Thaiss (Fr., Jackson, N.J.), but McCarthy stole second and Robbie Coman (So., Lake Worth, Fla.) singled to center to put runners at the corners. Pinch runner Thomas Woodruff (Jr., Clifton, Va.) swiped second base and La Prise walked on five pitches to load the bases. Huber rebounded to get Pinero to pop out to short right field and then struck out Papi looking on a 3-2 pitch to seal the win.
Kirby was sensational in his start for Virginia in the opener. He allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out a career-high nine batters in six innings. It marked Kirby’s fourth straight quality start to begin the season. After two shutout innings from Whit Mayberry (R-Sr., Alexandria, Va.), Nick Howard (Jr., Olney, Md.) pitched through problems in the ninth inning to record his third save.
Duke starting pitcher Drew Van Orden (1-1) took the defeat after allowing two earned runs, five hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings.
Seven Cavaliers recorded a hit in the game. Papi hit a seventh-inning solo home run which proved to be the difference. All three Cavaliers runs came after two were out.
Virginia used a two-out rally in the second inning to post the game’s first run. Thaiss was hit by a pitch, then moved to second on a Nate Irving (Jr., Yonkers, N.Y.) single to right. Kenny Towns (Jr., Burke, Va.) then singled to right to bring Thaiss around for the run.
UVa struck again with two outs in the sixth inning. Cogswell led off with a double to left and still was standing at second with two out when pinch hitter Nick Howard lined a single to left. Cogswell slid around the tag to beat a great throw and push the lead to 2-0.
The Cavaliers added a run in the seventh inning when Papi cranked a two-out solo home run to right field, his third blast of the year.
After managing just two hits in the first eight innings, Duke made things interesting in the ninth inning with its own two-out rally as Mike Rosenfeld singled up the middle and Chris Marconcini followed with a two-run homer to right-center. Howard fell behind 3-1 against Jordan Betts but bounced back to blow back-to-back pitches past Betts to record the strikeout and end the game.
Virginia and Duke play the series finale at 1 p.m. Sunday. ESPN3 will have a live video broadcast, while a live audio broadcast will be available through a Cavaliers Live subscription on VirginiaSports.com.