March 4, 2017
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The No. 12 Virginia baseball team split a doubleheader Saturday, winning the first game, 12-3, against La Salle before dropping their first game of the season in the nightcap, 8-5, against Niagara. UVA now is 10-1 on the year.
The weekend round-robin tournament at Davenport Field concludes Sunday. Niagara (5-4) and La Salle (0-9) play at 11 a.m., while UVA takes on La Salle at 2:30 p.m.
Virginia scored seven runs in the seventh inning to break open a close game in a 12-3 win in the opener against La Salle.
Robbie Coman (Gr., Lake Worth, Fla.) went 4-for-4 with three RBI to highlight the Cavaliers’ 16-hit game. Adam Haseley (Jr., Windermere, Fla.) added three hits, while Pavin Smith had two hits and three RBI. Andy Weber (So., Aurora, Ohio) had a three-run triple to break the game open in the seventh inning.
Virginia starter Evan Sperling (So., Poquoson, Va.) worked seven innings and struck out nine batters, both career highs. Sperling (3-0) allowed three earned runs, five hits and two walks to earn the win. La Salle starter Mike Anthony (0-2) took the loss after giving up five runs and 11 hits in five innings.
Virginia jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first inning on a two-run single from Coman and an RBI hit from Cameron Simmons (So., Royersford, Pa.), and pushed it to 5-0 after an RBI single from Smith in the fourth and a solo homer from Jalen Harrison (Fr., Palmyra, Va.) to lead off the fifth. The home run also was Harrison’s first career hit.
After retiring 11 straight batters, Sperling hit a rough patch in the sixth as La Salle put up four hits in five batters, including an RBI single from Kevin McGowan and a two-run double from Ben Faso, to pull within 5-3.
UVA blew the game open by sending 11 batters to the plate in a seven-run seventh inning. UVA loaded the bases before Weber launched a 3-2 pitch into the gap in right-center to clear the bases. One out later, Ernie Clement (Jr., Rochester, N.Y.) hit a run-scoring single, and Pavin Smith (Jr., Jupiter, Fla.) followed with a two-run double to right. Coman hit the next pitch to left for a single to plate Smith for the seventh run of the inning.
Niagara grabbed a first-inning lead and never trailed as it pulled out an 8-5 win in the nightcap. The Purple Eagles scored four runs in the first inning and four more in the sixth inning before holding off a UVA rally in the ninth.
The Cavaliers left the bases loaded three times, including in the ninth, and stranded a dozen runners on base.
UVA starter Noah Murdock (Fr., Colonial Heights, Va.) worked one-third of an inning, allowing four earned runs, three hits and two walks in taking the loss and dropping to 1-1 on the year. Bennett Sousa (Jr., North Palm Beach, Fla.) worked 4 1/3 scoreless innings of relief, striking out a career-high six while allowing just two hits and a walk. In all, UVA pitchers walked seven men and hit two more batters.
Reliever James MacKinnon (1-0) earned the win after working three-plus innings of and allowing two runs. Niagara starter Austin Miller allowed one runs, five hits and two walks in four-plus innings.
Niagara bolted to a 4-0 first-inning lead while knocking Murdock from the game. The freshman struggled with his control, walking two and then hitting a batter to force a run in before Joel Brophy’s two-run double prompted a pitching change to Sousa.
UVA scuffled against Miller and stranded seven runners in the first four innings before getting a leadoff single from McCarthy in the fifth. He stole two bases against reliever James Walker and scored on a Smith sacrifice fly.
Niagara again took advantage of wildness from the UVA pitching staff in the sixth, scoring four runs on just one hit, while benefiting from three walks and two hit batsmen, to take an 8-1 lead. After scoring on a wild pitch and a bases-loaded hit batsman, the Purple Eagles capped the inning with a two-run double by Peter Battaglia.
UVA scored three runs in its half of the sixth, also with the benefit of only one hit. The Cavaliers loaded the bases with none out following a pair of walks and a Drew Blakely (Fr., Galesburg, Mich.) single, and scored on sac flies from Weber and McCarthy as well as a balk.
The Cavaliers made things interesting in the ninth, getting back-to-back doubles from McCarthy and Haseley to open the ninth and knock MacKinnon from the game. McCuen walked Smith on four pitches and one out later walked Simmons to bring the potential winning run to the plate, but he retired the final two batters to leave the bases loaded.