March 17, 2017
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The No. 11 Virginia baseball team used an outstanding pitching performance by sophomore Daniel Lynch (Henrico, Va.) and a seventh inning solo home run by junior Pavin Smith (Jupiter, Fla.) to down No. 10 Clemson 2-0 at Doug Kingsmore Stadium and take the first game of the three-game series.
It was UVA’s second consecutive shutout and improved the Hoos to 15-3 and 2-2 in ACC play. Clemson dropped to 14-4 overall and suffered its first ACC loss, falling to 3-1 in league play.
Lynch threw a career high 7 2/3 innings, allowing just four hits to get the win and improve to 4-1 this season. He only faced more than four Clemson batters once in his first seven innings of work. He struck out four and walked just two in the victory.
Lynch entered the contest having never pitched past the sixth inning in 17 game appearances.
Clemson junior starter Charlie Barnes was just as commanding facing the UVA lineup. He entered the game with a 0.69 earned run average and gave up just three hits to the Cavaliers over the first six innings.
Smith put the Cavaliers on top in the top of the seventh inning when he launched a 3-1 pitch deep into right field. It was his fifth home run of the season and the 20th of his career and the 20th long ball hit by UVA this season.
Prior to Smith’s run, Barnes had gone 27 2/3 innings without surrendering an earned run.
Clemson mounted a serious threat in the bottom of the eighth inning when the Tigers loaded the bases following throwing errors from UVA catcher Robbie Coman (Lake Worth, Fla.) and shortstop Ernie Clement (Rochester, N.Y.).
With two outs, senior Alex Bettinger (Woodbridge, Va.) came in from the UVA bullpen to relieve Lynch. He got a force out on Tiger catcher Chris Williams when Williams hit a ground ball to Cavalier third baseman Justin Novak (Tokyo, Japan), who made a diving stop and threw out a runner at second base.
Clemson lifted Barnes after 8 1/3 innings having struck out seven UVA batters and allowing six hits.
Virginia scored its second run in the top of the ninth inning when sophomore Cameron Simmons (Royersford, Pa.) drove Tiger reliever Brooks Crawford’s pitch deep to center field. Smith, who walked to open the inning and advanced to second on Coman’s sacrifice bunt, recorded his second run of the game.
Following Bettinger’s one inning of work, junior Tommy Doyle (Vienna, Va.) came on to collect two strikeouts in the ninth inning and pick up his fourth save of the year for UVA.
“Tonight was a story of guys responding,” said Virginia coach Brian O’Connor. “Lynch was not happy with his outing last week at North Carolina and he certainly responded. That’s by far the best outing of his young career. He was tremendous and Bettinger did a nice job coming in with the bases loaded and making his pitches and certainly Tommy was good with his pitches in the ninth.”
The loss was Clemson’s second shutout of the season. The Tigers dropped a 2-0 decision to South Carolina on March 3. It was UVA’s second shutout performance in its last three meetings with the Tigers. UVA downed Clemson 1-0 in 2014 in the third game of a home series at Davenport Field. It was the Cavaliers’ first shutout win at Clemson since 2011.
“We did enough offensively against one of the best pitchers in the league,” O’Connor said. “I was really proud of Cam Simmons there with that extra tack-on run. With two strikes, that was a really big one for us. We were going to have some individual performances to win this game because of the type of pitching matchup it was. He (Smith) and Simmons both rose up for us.”
Virginia has won nine of its last 11 games at Clemson and 23 of the last 28 games in the series.
Game two of the three-game series is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday. The series marks the first time since 2013 the two teams have played at Clemson.