CLEMSON, S.C. – Virginia (8-6, 0-1 ACC) dropped a heartbreaker in the series opener at Clemson (12-7, 1-0 ACC) as Valerie Cagle lifted a walk-off homer with two outs to propel the Tigers to an 8-7 win.
Virginia was led offensively by Ashley Jennings (Forest, Va.) who went 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI. She also scored a pair of runs on the evening. Molly Grube (Chesterfield, Va.) took the loss for the Cavaliers. She allowed one run on two hits in 1 1/3 innings of relief work.
Cagle, who started in the circle for Clemson, finished 4-for-5 at the plate with two RBI. Emma Whitfield earned the win for Clemson, tossing a perfect two innings in relief.
With the game tied at 7-7 in the bottom of the seventh, Virginia used a double play to erase a lead-off runner. It did not matter, however, as Cagle launched a 3-0 pitch to center for a walk-off home run.
HOW IT HAPPENED
Virginia opened the scoring in the top of the third inning. Jennings singled and then took second on an outfield error before she swiped third and scored as the throw bounded away.
The Cavaliers extended the lead in the fourth with a pair of runs. Donna Friedman (Orange, Calif.) singled inside the third base line to start the frame. After the pinch runner Emma McBride (Magnolia, Texas) swiped second, Jennings launched a towering two-run homer off the left-field foul pole.
Trailing 3-0, Clemson scored four times to take the lead in the bottom of the fourth. What appeared to be a strikeout four out number two was called back and JoJo Hyatt doubled home a run the next pitch. Another double from Grace Mattimore and single from Valerie Cagle gave Clemson a 4-3 lead.
Virginia answered with a four-run top of the fifth. Savana Avilla (Phoenix, Ariz.) reached on a one-out error and scored when Tori Gilbert (Mechanicsville, Va.) doubled to right center. Katie Goldberg (Atlanta, Ga.) drove Gilbert home with a sacrifice fly to put Virginia up 5-4 before Kate Covington (McLean, Va.) doubled to make it 6-4. An error allowed the Cavaliers to rebuild their lead in its entirety at 7-4.
The Tigers would pull one back in the bottom half of the fifth on two, two-out walks and a hit-by-pitch to cut the lead to 7-5. Clemson then used two hits and two walks to tie the game at 7-7 in the 6th.
Cagle’s solo shot in the seventh capped Clemson’s comeback to take the series opener.
ON THE LINES
• Gilbert and Jennings each had two hits on the night. Gilbert’s two knocks were both doubles.
• Friedman extended her hitting streak to seven games.
• Aly Rayle (Herndon, Va.) made the start, allowing four runs, three earned in 3 1/3 innings.
Virginia and Clemson continue the series on Saturday (Feb. 29) with a 1 p.m. first pitch on ACCNX.