April 19, 2014
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The top-ranked Virginia baseball team clinched its 10th straight winning weekend of the 2014 season with a 3-1 triumph over North Carolina Saturday afternoon in front of a sellout crowd of 5,025 at Davenport Field. Virginia (33-6, 16-4 ACC) has won all seven of its ACC series this year and captured 10 straight ACC series in Charlottesville since a 2012 series sweep at home to UNC.
The Cavaliers used opportunistic hitting, combined with solid pitching and defense, to pick up the win Saturday. UVa finished with just three hits, but one was a two-run home run from Kenny Towns (Jr., Burke, Va.). North Carolina (22-17, 9-11) finished with 10 hits - all in the first six innings - but left nine runners on base.
Virginia starting pitcher Josh Sborz (So., McLean, Va.) grinded through five innings to earn the win and improve to 4-2. He allowed a career-high nine hits as well as two walks but gave up just one run. Sborz also struck out four.
Connor Jones (Fr., Chesapeake, Va.) worked three scoreless innings of relief and faced the minimum of nine batters before giving way to Nick Howard (Jr., Olney, Md.) who worked a dominating ninth inning for the second straight day to earn his 13th save of the year. The bullpen duo retired the final 10 UNC batters in order.
North Carolina starter Benton Moss (2-2) worked 7 2/3 innings, giving up three earned runs, three hits and three walks while striking out six in taking the loss.
Sborz labored through a 23-pitch first inning as he tried to find a feel for his breaking ball, but buckled down Landon Lassiter looking to strand runners at first and second. That was a sign of things to come, as Sborz battled to leave the bases loaded in the second inning and two more runners on base in the third inning.
Virginia scored quickly in the first inning as Branden Cogswell (Jr., Ballston Lake, N.Y.) led off with a double, moved to second on a Daniel Pinero (Fr., Toronto, Ontario) sacrifice and scored on a Mike Papi (Jr., Tunkhannock, Pa.) groundout to second base.
The Cavaliers put up two more runs in the third inning as Robbie Coman (So., Lake Worth, Fla.) drew a four-pitch walk to lead off the inning and Towns followed with a two-run home run off the façade of the left-field bleachers. The blast was Towns' first of the season.
Despite recording seven hits in the first four innings, North Carolina did not score until the fifth. After back-to-back singles from Skye Bolt and Tom Zengel to start the inning, Lassiter bunted the runners to second and third. Parks Jordan grounded out to first to bring Bolt home.
Virginia goes for the series sweep at 1 p.m. Sunday.
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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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