No. 18 Virginia Downs Pitt, 5-2, to Clinch Series
April 8, 2017
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The No. 18 Virginia baseball team clinched an ACC series win with a 5-2 victory over Pittsburgh Saturday afternoon at Davenport Field. The Cavaliers (25-8, 7-7 ACC) won their fourth straight game and go for the series sweep of the Panthers (14-14, 6-8) at 1 p.m. Sunday.
“That was a really good ballgame,” Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor said. “Certainly the fourth inning was big for us. Caleb Knight’s home run was a huge lift for us. Alec Bettinger did it for us again, and came in and pitched very well as he has in that kind of role. Noah Murdock did a nice job, and certainly I had a short leash on him, but I didn’t like how he was falling behind in the count a little too much. I knew, having a rested Alec Bettinger, that the plan was to go to him at any point in time that I felt we needed to, and he settled things down and allowed us to do offensively what we needed to.
“We have a special opportunity tomorrow that we haven’t had up until this point, and that is to win all three games in a series. Our guys will be excited to come out and compete tomorrow.”
Three UVA pitchers combined to limit Pitt to four hits. Alec Bettinger (Sr., Woodbridge, Va.) fired 4 2/3 shutout innings out of the bullpen, allowing a hit and two walks with seven strikeouts to earn the win and improve to 5-0 on the year. Tommy Doyle (Jr., Vienna, Va.) worked the final 1 1/3 innings to claim his eighth save. Freshman starter Noah Murdock (Colonial Heights, Va.) worked three-plus innings, giving up a run, two hits and two walks while striking out two.
Pitt starter Josh Mitchell (1-3) pitched 5 2/3 innings, giving up five earned runs, seven hits and four walks while striking out four in taking the loss.
Virginia collected eight hits, including two hits apiece from Justin Novak (Jr., Tokyo, Japan) and Cameron Simmons (So., Royersford, Pa.). Caleb Knight (Jr., Checotah, Okla.) had the big blow in the game — a three-run homer to cap a five-run fourth inning.
Pitt grabbed its first lead in the series on a fourth-inning solo homer to right field from Nick Banman.
Virginia promptly responded by sending eight to the plate and scoring five runs in the bottom of the fourth. With one out and Adam Haseley (Jr., Windermere, Fla.) on first, the game turned when Robbie Coman (Gr., Lake Worth, Fla.) lifted a high pop into shallow right field. All hands were safe when second baseman Alex Amos and right fielder Nico Popa collided, allowing the ball to drop for a double.
After a long delay to check on the players, Simmons blooped a single on the first pitch over the drawn-in infield into right-center to plate Haseley. Novak lined the next pitch to center for a single to score Coman. On a 3-2 pitch Knight launched a towering three-run home run into the left-field bleachers, his second homer of the year.
Bettinger retired 13 of the first 14 batters he faced before issuing a pair of walks in the eighth inning, prompting UVA to bring Doyle in with two outs, but he struck out Caleb Parry on three pitches to end the inning. Pitt scored a run in the ninth on a one-out RBI double from P.J. DeMeo — the Panthers’ first hit since the fifth inning — but Doyle retired Manny Pazos and Popa to end the game.