March 18, 2017
CLEMSON, S.C. -- Despite a late-game rally, the No. 11 Virginia baseball team lost the second contest of its three-game series at No. 10 Clemson 7-6 Saturday at Doug Kingsmore Stadium. The defeat dropped UVA to 15-4 on the season and 2-3 in ACC play. The Tigers improved to 15-4 and 4-1 in league action.
After being shut out and held to just four hits in UVA's 2-0 win on Friday night, the Tigers' bats came alive early. Clemson used four hits and a throwing error by Virginia to chase Hoos' sophomore starter Evan Sperling (Poquoson, Va.) in the first inning and race out to a 6-0 lead.
UVA sophomore reliever Chesdin Harrington (Montpelier, Va.) came in to end the Tigers' threat and combined with junior Bennett Sousa (North Palm Beach, Fla.) and senior Jack Roberts (Richmond, Va.) to hold Clemson to just four hits and one run for the remainder of the game. Harrington worked two scoreless innings while Sousa gave up one run in 3 1/3 innings. Roberts closed the contest, allowing just a single hit during Clemson's final two at bats.
"They did a nice job," said Virginia head coach Brian O'Connor. "Starting with Chesdin Harrington, he settled the game down, coming in during a difficult time in the first inning. Bennett did a nice job as well and so did Jack Roberts, pitching out there in the seventh and eighth and giving us two shutout innings as well. I was proud of all of those guys. They gave us a chance and that's what you would like your bullpen to do."
The Tigers' early lead held up until Cavalier sophomore Cameron Simmons (Royersford, Pa.) blasted a two-out, two-run homer to center field in the top of the fourth inning. Pavin Smith scored on the play after getting on base with a single. It was Simmons first home run of the season and the 21st by UVA this year.
Clemson answered with a solo home run in its half of the frame to hold a 7-2 advantage.
The Cavaliers managed to load the bases with two outs in the seventh inning but could not punch across a run.
Virginia broke through in the eighth with three runs when senior Robbie Coman (Lake Worth, Fla.) walked and Simmons and sophomore Andy Weber (Aurora, Ohio) managed one-out singles. Weber singled up the middle to drive in two runs and then sophomore Cameron Comer (Powell, Ohio) lopped a sacrifice fly to left field to make it 7-5 before the side retired.
In the top of the ninth, UVA closed to within a single run when junior Adam Haseley (Windermere, Fla.) hit a two-out double and Smith brought him home with a single, his fourth hit of the series. Pinch hitting junior Charlie Cody's (Chesapeake, Va.) pop-up ended the game.
"Our guys, they don't give up and they keep battling," O'Connor said. "On the road in this type of environment is a good test for our guys. Unfortunately, Evan Sperling did not have it in the first inning and dug us a pretty big hole. I was really proud of the guys who came out of the bullpen and I was proud of our offensive ball club that we continued to fight against a good pitcher and to find a way. Here we were, potentially one swing away from winning the ball game in the ninth inning."
Haseley finished the game going three-for-five from the plate for UVA. Smith and Simmons both added two hits for UVA.
Clemson starter Alex Eubanks worked seven innings for the Tigers, striking out five Cavaliers and scattering eight hits to improve to 3-1 this year. The loss dropped Sperling to 3-2 this season.
The third game in the series gets underway at 1 p.m. Sunday. The game will be webcast by ACC Network Extra.
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A 1985 graduate of UVA, White worked at the Richmond Times-Dispatch until July 2009. He was honored six times as the state's Sportswriter of the Year.
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