North Carolina avoids sweep with 4-2 win against top-ranked Virginia
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Michael Russell hit a two-run homer in the fifth to give Carolina its first lead of the series, and Zac Gallen and Reilly Hovis made it hold up as the Tar Heels beat No. 1 Virginia 4-2 Sunday afternoon at Davenport Field. Gallen rebounded from a rocky start to go 5.1 innings before Hovis retired the final 11 Cavalier hitters to give UNC its first win against a top-ranked team since a sweep of Virginia in 2011.
Virginia (33-7, 16-5 ACC) scratched first for the third day in a row when Branden Cogswell singled home Brandon Downes in the second. Gallen (4-3) labored through the first two innings, needing 45 pitches to get six outs, but the Gibbsboro, N.J., freshman found his groove in the third.
He faced the minimum in the next three innings, aided by a key 6-3-4 double play in the fourth when Adrian Chacon threw behind Downes to end the inning in unconventional fashion.
Carolina (23-17, 10-11 ACC) pulled even with a Landon Lassiter sac fly in the third and finally got its first lead of the weekend thanks to Russell's blast in the fifth. Parks Jordan, who had two hits and scored twice, reached on a leadoff single against Brandon Waddell (5-2). After a Korey Dunbar sacrifice, Russell crushed a 2-0 pitch into the trees beyond the left field bleachers to make it 3-1.
The Wahoos put two on with one out against Gallen in the sixth, and Carolina called on Hovis, a sophomore right-hander. Hovis got out of the jam with just one run on a John La Prise safety squeeze, and took over from there. Hovis retired the final 11 Virginia batters in order for his third save of 2014 and needed just 30 pitches to do it.
UNC added an insurance run in the seventh when Wood Myers' bases-loaded fielder's choice was mishandled by Daniel Pinero at second, pushing the Tar Heel lead to 4-2. Hovis ensured that would be sufficient as the Cavs couldn't get the tying run to the plate.