May 10, 2013
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Nate Irving'swalk-off RBI single capped a three-run ninth-inning rally to lift the seventh-ranked Virginia baseball team to a 6-5 victory over Duke Friday night at Davenport Field. Virginia (40-8, 18-7 ACC) trailed most of the night before rallying for its 17th come-from-behind win of the year, including its third ninth-inning comeback in ACC play.
Playing its first game in nine days after a break for final exams, Virginia reached the 40-win plateau for the eighth time in the last 10 years. UVa is the sixth team in the nation to earn 40 wins this year.
The Cavaliers racked up 10 hits, with five coming in the ninth inning off Duke closer Andrew Istler. Jared King (R-Sr., Radford, Va.), Brandon Downes (So., South Plainfield, N.J.) and Reed Gragnani(Sr., Richmond, Va.) all had a pair of hits for the winning cause.
The third of a trio of freshman hurlers for the Cavaliers, Nathan Kirby (Fr., Richmond, Va.) earned the victory and improved to 4-1 after recording the final two outs in the ninth inning. UVa starter Brandon Waddell (Fr., Houston, Texas) worked 6 1/3 innings, giving up four runs (two earned), five hits and a walk while striking out six. Josh Sborz(Fr., McLean, Va.) tossed two innings of relief.
Istler (3-5) took the loss for Duke (25-24, 9-16) after giving up three runs, five hits and an intentional walk in one-third of an inning. His blown save spoiled a tremendous pitching outing from starter Trent Swart, who worked eight innings, allowing three runs (two earned), five hits and a walk while fanning six. After giving up two first-inning runs, Swart retired 23 of the final 26 batters he faced.
UVa's ninth-inning rally spanned well over an hour, with a 56-minute weather delay halting the game with one out. Trailing 5-3 entering the ninth, the Cavaliers' leadoff hitter, Joe McCarthy (Fr., Scranton, Pa.) was retired on a groundout. Downes followed with his ACC-leading seventh triple of the year off the left-center field wall, and he scored on a wild pitch. Derek Fisher (So., Rexmont, Pa.) then singled to left-center. As Nick Howard(So., Olney, Md.) stepped into the batter's box, play was stopped because of incoming severe weather.
The Cavaliers picked right where they left off after the delay. Howard singled on a 2-2 pitch to move pinch runner John LaPrise (Fr., Exton, Pa.) to second base. Gragnani then tied the game when he lined a single to left-center. LaPrise moved to third on the play, and Gragnani advanced to second on the throw to third. Kenny Towns(So., Burke, Va.) was intentionally walked to load the bases, and Irving followed with a single through the drawn-in infield and into right field for the Cavaliers' third walk-off win of the season.
Virginia jumped on Swart for a pair of first-inning runs. Mike Papi(So., Tunkhannock, Pa.) drew a leadoff walk, and King followed with a single. A passed ball advanced the runners, and McCarthy lined a single back up the middle to score both runners.
Duke knotted the score in the third inning on a two-out home run by Andy Perez, his fourth homer of the year. The Blue Devils moved ahead in the fourth, taking advantage of a Virginia error to lead off the inning. With two outs Kenny Koplove launched a home run into the left-field bleachers, giving Duke a 4-2 edge.
After Swart retired 12 straight Cavaliers, UVa cut the lead to 4-3 in the sixth inning. King singled to right with one out. A McCarthy groundout moved King to second, and Downes ripped a single to left to bring home the run.
Duke promptly countered with a run in the seventh inning. With one out Josh Sborz(Fr., McLean, Va.) entered the game and walked pinch hitter Matt Berezo. One out later Jeff Kremer lined a double up the right-center field gap to score the run and up Duke's lead to 5-3.
The teams are slated to play Game 2 of the series at 4 p.m. Saturday, while the series finale is set for 1 p.m. Sunday. Senior Day ceremonies will be held prior to the Sunday contest at 12:30 p.m.
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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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