April 23, 2014
RICHMOND, Va. - Brandon Downes (Jr., South Plainfield, N.J.) launched a home run on the first pitch of the 10th inning to lift the No. 1-ranked Virginia baseball team to a 5-4 win over VCU Tuesday evening in front of 3,756 fans at The Diamond in Richmond, Va. Virginia (34-7) improved to 10-3 in one-run games with the victory.
Brandon Downes (Jr., South Plainfield, N.J.) and Derek Fisher (Jr., Rexmont, Pa.) each homered for the Cavaliers, marking the first opposing home runs hit at The Diamond against VCU (28-10) this year. Both had two hits, while UVa finished 11 hits.
Nick Howard (Jr., Olney, Md.) earned the win and improved to 2-0 with 1 2/3 innings of relief. Whit Mayberry (R-Sr., Alexandria, Va.) worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the 10th inning to pick up his second save. The duo combined to leave the bases loaded in each of the last three innings. UVa pitchers stranded 14 VCU baserunners in the game.
Virginia starting pitcher Artie Lewicki (Sr., Wyckoff, N.J.) worked 4 1/3 innings, giving up two earned runs, five hits and a walk while striking out three. Connor Jones (Fr., Chesapeake, Va.) tossed three innings of relief.
Matt Lees (5-3), the sixth VCU pitcher, took the loss after giving up the Downes homer in the 10th. VCU starter Daniel Concepcion worked three innings, giving up two runs (one earned) and six hits while striking out one.
Virginia took advantage of a pair of VCU miscues to score in the first inning. Branden Cogswell (Jr., Ballston Lake, N.Y.) reached on an error on the second pitch of the game. With one out he moved around to third on a failed pickoff throw by Concepcion. He then scored with two outs on a single to right-center by Joe McCarthy (So., Scranton, Pa.).
VCU countered with a pair of runs in its half of the first. Cody Acker led off with a single and scored with one out on a fielder's choice by Vimael Machin. Chris Ayers then tripled to center to plate Machin.
UVa tied the game in the second inning when Fisher launched a solo home run over the right-field wall. In just his second game back after missing 25 games with a broken hamate bone, Fisher notched his first home run of the season.
The Cavaliers moved ahead in the fifth inning. Daniel Pinero (Fr., Toronto, Ontario) hit a leadoff single to left and moved to second on a Robbie Coman (So., Lake Worth, Fla.) sacrifice. Pinero then stole third base standing up before scoring on a McCarthy sacrifice fly to right.
UVa added a run in the eighth inning. Downes led off with a single and moved to second when Nate Irving (Jr., Yonkers, N.Y.) walked. Kenny Towns (Jr., Burke, Va.) laid down a sac bunt on a two-strike pitch and after Cogswell was intentionally walked, Pinero lifted the 3-2 pitch to center for a sac fly.
VCU got the run back in the eighth but left the bases loaded in its attempt to tie the game. With one out against Jones, Joey Cujas singled to center. Machin and Ayers drew back-to-back walks to load the bases, and Bill Cullen ripped a single to right to bring Cujas home. UVa brought in Howard, who struck out Matt Davis looking on three pitches and Logan Farrar on a check swing to end the threat.
The Rams tied the game with two outs in the ninth inning. Acker drew a one-out walk and moved to third on a two-out single by Cujas. After Machin walked to load the bases, Ayers hit a slow grounder to second base but Cogswell bobbled the ball as he tried to flip it to Pinero for the force out, and all hands were safe, with Acker scoring the tying run. Howard bounced back to quickly strike out Cullen to send the game to extra innings.
Downes ripped Matt Lees' first pitch of the 10th inning over the left-field wall for his sixth home run of the season. VCU nearly responded in its half of the 10th, loading the bases with two outs, but Cujas grounded into a force play to end the game.
Virginia has a quick turnaround and returns home Wednesday for a 6 p.m. game against Richmond at Davenport Field.
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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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