No. 13 Virginia Rallies to Top VMI, 9-7
Feb. 21, 2017
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The No. 13 Virginia baseball team rallied from a 6-2 deficit in the seventh inning to post a 9-7 victory over VMI on Tuesday afternoon in the 2017 home opener at Davenport Field. With the win, Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor recorded his 600th career coaching win, becoming the second fastest in ACC history to reach the 600-win plateau (825 games, second only to Florida State’s Mike Martin, 802 games). O’Connor currently is the winningest coach in program history and 10th in career wins in ACC history.
“I was extremely proud of our guys,” Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor said. “VMI played really tough and in a lot of ways deserved to win. They were in control of the game there until late. I was proud of our guys’ resiliency in the ballgame. It’s a great quality that you have to have. Certainly, the last two games, falling behind going into the late innings by four or six runs is not what you want to get used to, but it happens and our guys showed a lot of character.”
For the second straight game, UVA (4-0) came back from a deficit of four or more runs in the last three innings. The Cavaliers trailed 6-0 in the seventh inning on Sunday against Kansas before coming back for a 9-6 win in UVA’s largest comeback win in 11 seasons.
Virginia totaled 11 hits, with eight coming during its final two innings at the plate as UVA scored three in the seventh and four in the eighth. Seven Cavaliers recorded hits, while the two that did not, Charlie Cody (Jr., Chesapeake, Va.) and Andy Weber (So., Aurora, Ohio), each played key roles. Weber had three RBI off a pair of sacrifice flies as well as the game-tying, bases-loaded walk in the eighth inning. Cody scored twice and had a key at-bat in the game, coming back from an 0-2 hole to coax a nine-pitch, bases-loaded walk and force in the first run in the eighth.
Freshman Noah Murdock (Colonial Heights, Va.) earned his first college win after working the eighth inning out of the bullpen. Tommy Doyle (Jr., Vienna, Va.) pitched the ninth for his first save. The sixth of seven VMI pitchers, Jack Gomersall (0-2) took the loss after allowing three runs in the eighth inning.
In his first start since the 2015 season, UVA starter Derek Casey (Jr., Mechanicsville, Va.) worked five strong innings, allowing two earned runs and four hits while striking out four. VMI starter Zak Kent pitched 3 2/3 innings, giving up an earned run, one hit and two walks while striking out three.
VMI (1-4) struck first on solo home runs by Will Malbon (third inning) and Tyler Tharp (fourth). UVA countered in its half of the fourth as Ernie Clement (Jr., Rochester, N.Y.) hustled out a leadoff double and later scored on a Pavin Smith (Jr., Jupiter, Fla.) groundout.
UVA manufactured a run to tie the game in the fifth as Cameron Simmons (So., Royersford, Pa.) was hit by a pitch, then moved to second on a passed ball and third on a Cody sacrifice bunt. Weber followed with a sac fly to left.
VMI scored four runs on just one hit in the seventh inning. With the bases loaded following a pair of walks and a hit by pitch, Matt Dunlevy lined an 0-2 pitch to right field, and when Simmons booted the ball, all three runners scored and Dunlevy landed on third base. Dunlevy then scored on a wild pitch.
UVA countered by scoring three runs in its half of the seventh. After the Cavaliers loaded the bases with none out, Weber hit a sac fly to left and Clement followed with an RBI single to center. With two outs, Adam Haseley (Jr., Windermere, Fla.) lined a single to center to make it a 6-5 game.
The Keydets scored a run in the eighth when Malbon grounded into a fielder’s choice against the drawn-in infield, with Peyton Maddox, who tripled with one out, scampering home to beat the throw.
The Cavaliers scored four runs in the eighth to take their first lead, again loading the bases with none out. After Simmons struck out, Cody and Weber coaxed back-to-back walks to force in a pair of runs to tie the game. Facing reliever Mason Adamson, Clement hit a sac fly to center to score Nate Eikhoff (So., Bristow, Va.) and Jake McCarthy (So., Scranton, Pa.) followed with a ringing single to center to plate Cody.
Virginia continues its nine-game homestand this weekend (Friday through Sunday) with a three-game series against Rutgers.