Virginia's Nathan Kirby strikes out 18 in no-hitter against Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- Nathan Kirby threw a no-hitter in No. 1 Virginia's 4-0 victory at Pittsburgh Friday evening at Charles Cost Field. Kirby struck out 18 batters, one off the school and ACC single-game record, in UVa's first no-hitter since 2011. Virginia (26-4, 11-2 ACC) extended its winning streak to nine games with the momentous victory.
"It's kind of cliché but it was a blur," Kirby said. "It kind of slowed down there at the end of the game. With (Nate) Irving back there and John (La Prise) and the two plays he made and (Daniel) Pinero, who has made that play all year, they all helped me out but tonight there was a lot of added pressure. I can't sum it up just yet. It hasn't sunk in.
"It was one of those nights where the umpire and I were on the same page," Kirby said with a laugh. "I got a couple of close calls. Everything was working. I wanted to let the hitters hit it and let our defense play."
In recording his first career complete game, Kirby (6-1) fell one strikeout shy of the school and ACC records. The school record for strikeouts is 19, set by Harry Thomas in 1974 against Clemson. That total is tied with NC State's Shawn Senior (vs. Howard, 1993) and North Carolina's Roger Williams (vs. Duke, 1985) for the ACC record. The complete-game effort also marked the first time Kirby has pitched longer than 6.2 innings in his career.
"It felt weird," Kirby said of pitching through and past the seventh inning. "I got a little bit of a second wind at the end. That's all I could think about in the sixth inning was getting through the seventh because that's been my demon all year long. It was definitely surreal."
Kirby faced just two batters over the minimum as he recorded UVa's first no-hitter since Will Roberts' perfect game against George Washington in 2011. It was Virginia's fifth no-hitter in the last 50 years. The others: Ned Turnbull vs. NC State in 1966, Barry Hollar vs. Mansfield State in 1974 and Mike Ballard vs. Boston College in 2006.
Kirby allowed one walk, a fifth-inning free pass to A.J. Lardo, and UVa committed one error on a first-inning grounder by Pitt's Dylan Wolsonovich. He retired the final 13 batters he faced.
"Nathan Kirby was really impressive today," Virginia head coach Brian O'Connor said. "Obviously you look at the stat line and he threw a no hitter, which is really special for him and our team. We made a lot of great plays behind him. The poise he showed tonight, the calmness and the presence he showed, was truly impressive. I'm really proud of him. It's a great accomplishment for him and our team."
"The velocity on his fastball was really overpowering. He had a great fastball with location and he was working ahead in the count. He had that devastating curveball that he could throw with two strikes underneath those right-handed hitters. It was just special."
Kirby struck out the side in the second, third and fourth innings, retiring 10 straight batters by strikeout at one point. His defense supported him as well, including on the game's final play when shortstop Daniel Pinero made a ranging play to his left to field a Wolsonovich grounder and quickly threw to first to beat a head-first sliding Wolsonovich by a step.
Kirby now has made seven straight quality starts to begin the season; he came into the game as one of eight pitchers nationally to record a quality start in the first six starts this year. He also lowered his earned run average to 1.03.
John La Prise recorded three hits to highlight a nine-hit day for the Virginia offense. Joe McCarthy and Brandon Downes each went 2-for-4 for the Cavaliers.
Pitt starting pitcher Rhys Aldenhoven (2-2) worked 5.2 innings, allowing four runs (one earned), eight hits and three walks while striking out five in taking the loss for the Panthers (15-14, 7-6).
The Cavaliers took advantage of a pair of a Pitt error in the second inning to score the game's first run in the second inning. Leadoff hitter Nate Irving reached on an error by third baseman Jordan Frabasilio. He advanced to third following a Kenny Towns sacrifice and La Prise single and scored when Branden Cogswell bunted him home.
Virginia added third-inning run as McCarthy led off with a double and scored one out later on a double to left-center by Downes.
UVa tacked on two runs in the sixth inning. La Prise singled with one out and advanced on a wild pitch. Pinero was hit by a pitch with two outs. Mike Papi then hit a high fly ball toward right-center which blew away from center fielder Stephen Vranko and charging right fielder Casey Roche made a diving attempt on the ball but could not corral it. The play, ruled an error, scored both runners to give UVa a 4-0 lead.
The game was the first between UVa and Pitt as ACC rivals and marked the first contest between the two programs since the 1981 season.