March 7, 2015
CARY, N.C. – The Virginia baseball team opened ACC play with a doubleheader split against Pittsburgh Saturday afternoon at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. Ranked as high as No. 1 nationally, Virginia (11-1, 1-1 ACC) suffered its first defeat of 2015 with a 1-0 loss in Game 1 but bounced back to win the nightcap, 2-1.
The teams were forced to relocate the series to Cary following inclement weather in Charlottesville on Thursday.
Strong pitching was the theme of the day as the teams combined for four runs 19 hits in the doubleheader.
UVa starting pitcher Connor Jones (So., Chesapeake, Va.) worked a career-high seven innings, allowing an earned run, four hits and one walk while striking out seven; he earned the win to pick up his fourth win in as many starts. Josh Sborz (So., McLean, Va.) pitched two scoreless innings to nab his fourth save.
Pitt starter Aaron Sandefur (1-1) fired 6 1/3 innings and allowed two earned runs, three hits and three walks in taking the defeat.
The teams combined for seven hits in the game. Virginia finished with three hits, but made them count.
After being shut out in Game 1, Virginia quickly rebounded by scoring a run in the first inning. Ernie Clement (Fr., Rochester, N.Y.) doubled on the first pitch and moved to third on an Adam Haseley (Fr., Windermere, Fla.) sacrifice bunt. Pavin Smith (Fr., Jupiter, Fla.) hit a slow grounder to second baseman Jordan Frabasilio, who fired home but Clement slid in safely just before the tag.
Pitt tied the game in the fourth inning. With two outs and Aaron Schnurbusch on first base, Nick Yarnall lifted a high fly to center that Clement lost in the lights, resulting in a run-scoring double.
UVa executed well to score the eventual winning run in the seventh. Christian Lowry (Fr., Chesapeake, Va.) hit a leadoff single and stole second. On a 2-2 count, Justin Novak (Fr., Tokyo, Japan) got down a great bunt on a pitch that was high and tight to move the runner to third. That proved key when Clement hit a fly ball to right field, with Lowry scoring on the sacrifice fly.
Pitt got a runner to third with two outs in the eighth against Sborz, but Frabasilio hit a grounder deep in the hole at shortstop on which Daniel Pinero (So., Toronto, Ontario) made a nice pick and throw to first to end the inning. Sborz then retired the Panthers 1-2-3 in the ninth inning.
Virginia’s season-opening 10-game win streak came to a halt as Pitt’s T.J. Zeuch and Matt Pidich combined on the four-hit shutout. UVa was shut out for the second time in its last 193 games. Zeuch worked eight innings, allowing just four hits while striking out eight. Pidich worked a perfect ninth inning for his first save.
UVa starter Nathan Kirby (Jr., Midlothian, Va.) was the hard-luck loser after pitching seven strong innings. Kirby (3-1) allowed a run, seven hits and two walks while striking out 13. It marked Kirby’s second-most strikeouts in a game in his career, behind only his 18-strikeout performance in a no-hitter at Pitt in 2014.
Kirby worked out of a bases loaded, no-out jam in the fourth inning to keep the game scoreless, striking out Schnurbusch, Manny Pazos and Frank Maldonado consecutively.
The game’s lone run came in the seventh inning. With one out, Maldonado tripled to center. Kirby bounced back to strike out Eric Hess for the second out, but Ron Sherman stung the 0-1 pitch to left field to plate Maldonado.
UVa advanced only one runner past first base over the first seven innings – Matt Thaiss (So., Jackson, N.J.) on a fifth-inning double. The Cavaliers had more than one runner on base in just one inning, the eighth. With two out and runners on first and second base, pinch hitter Robbie Coman (Jr., Lake Worth, Fla.) hit a grounder up the middle that shortstop Charles Leblanc booted. The ball rolled toward second base, and Charlie Cody (Fr., Chesapeake, Va.) never stopped as he rounded third and headed home. Frabasilio picked the ball up at second and chucked it home to nail Cody at the plate by a step and keep the shutout in tact.
The 1-0 final marked UVa’s first 1-0 game since winning by that count against Marshall on March 8, 2011, at Davenport Field. The Cavaliers’ last 1-0 defeat came on April 25, 2008, at Miami.
The rubber game of the series is set for 1 p.m. Sunday. Live audio will be available online at VirginiaSports.com as part of the Cavaliers Live subscription package. Live statistics (GameTracker) will be available as well. The audio and live stats also can be accessed through the Virginia Sports app, which is available through iTunes. WINA 1070-AM will have the live radio broadcast in the Charlottesville area.