No. 1 Virginia's rally gives coach Brian O'Connor his 500th victory
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Mike Papi hit a two-out, two-run single in the seventh inning Friday to rally No. 1 Virginia to a 4-3 win against Georgia Tech at Davenport Field. The victory was the 500th in the UVa coaching career of Brian O’Connor, who becomes the second fastest to reach 500 wins in ACC history.
O’Connor is 500-170-2 in his career. He reached 500 wins in 672 games; Florida State’s Mike Martin reached 500 wins in 664 games after the Seminoles joined the ACC in 1992.
The second game of the series has been moved to noon Saturday because of the potential for inclement weather. It originally was slated for a 4 p.m. start. Fans may text UVABASE to 79516 to subscribe to alerts about Virginia baseball schedule changes and game updates because of inclement weather. Standard text message rates apply.
Virginia (39-9, 19-6 ACC) improved to 12-3 in one-run games this season and recorded its fifth win when trailing after six innings. Georgia Tech dropped to 29-21 (14-14) this season.
“That was a great college baseball game,” O’Connor said. “It was pretty well played by both teams and I’m really proud of our guys. In the fourth inning and the seventh inning we capitalized on two-out RBIs and when you’re playing good opponents like Georgia Tech, and to really be a championship ball club, that is really what you have to do – you get clutch hits with two outs and runners in scoring position. Three of our four runs came that way. Obviously Papi’s was a big one there.”
The Virginia bullpen worked 3 1/3 hitless innings and struck out seven to keep the game in reach. Austin Young earned the win and improved to 1-0 on the year after retiring four straight batters in the sixth and seventh innings. After Whit Mayberry struck out the side in the eighth, Nick Howard worked a scoreless ninth inning to earn his league-leading 16th save.
UVa starting pitcher Nathan Kirby fired 5 2/3 innings, giving up three runs (one earned), six hits and two walks while fanning four. Georgia Tech starting pitcher Josh Heddinger (3-3) took the loss after tossing 6 1/3 innings and allowing four earned runs, six hits and two walks with two strikeouts.
Papi was 2-for 4 with a pair of RBI out of the leadoff spot for Virginia, while Joe McCarthy recorded three hits.
Virginia manufactured a run in its first trip to the plate. Papi hit a leadoff single and advanced to second on a Daniel Pinero groundout. After Derek Fisher walked, McCarthy lined a single to center, and Papi scored when center fielder Daniel Spingola bobbled the ball.
The Cavaliers added a run in the fourth inning. McCarthy doubled off the right-center field wall to start the inning. He scored with two outs on a Kenny Towns single to right-center.
Georgia Tech sent eight batters to the plate while benefiting from a key UVa error in scoring three times in the fifth inning to take the lead. After A.J. Murray and Connor Justus hit back-to-back singles to start the inning, Brandon Gold bunted the runners over. Ryan Peurifoy then hit a dribbler down the first-base line, but Kirby dropped throw from Towns, allowing Peurifoy to reach as Murray scored. Mott Hyde hit a sac fly to tie the game, and Spingola nubbed a ball just inside third base and down the line to plate Peurifoy and give the Jackets a 3-2 lead.
Virginia rallied with a pair of runs in the seventh. With one out Towns walked, and John La Prise lined a double to left field to move Towns to third. Georgia Tech went to its bullpen with Sam Clay, and he got Nate Irving to strike out for the second out. Papi then cranked a single into right, bringing both runners home.