May 27, 2004
SALEM, Va. - The University of Virginia baseball team has won 17 games in comeback fashion this season in late innings. But this afternoon in a contest with the #6 seeded N.C. State Wolfpack, the #2 seeded Cavaliers experienced first hand the way its opponents usually feel after NCSU pulled out a ninth-inning rally to record a 6-5 victory over UVa. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, N.C. State connected on three consecutive hits to plate two runs, the later being the game-winning score.
The loss eliminated the Cavaliers from the tournament as Virginia finished 0-2 in the event after also suffering a 6-5 defeat to the #7 seeded Duke Blue Devils on Wednesday in the first round of the tournament. UVa went 0-2 in the ACC Tournament for the first time since 2002 when the Cavaliers dropped their first two games in St. Petersburg, Fla. to North Carolina and N.C. State.
After a scoreless inning of baseball, Virginia took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning when Joe Koshansky led off the inning with a walk before he scored a run two batters later on a RBI-single to left-center field by Matt Street. In UVa's next at-bat, Tom Hagan (who reached base after being hit by a pitch) scored a run on a RBI, sacrifice bunt to the pitcher by Kyle Werman to give the Cavaliers a two-run lead.
N.C. State answered right back in the bottom of the second inning and tied the game at 2-2. Three consecutive Wolfpack batters posted a single which led to Eric Taylor scoring a run on a RBI-single through the right side before Caleb Mangum scored a run from third base on a RBI, sacrifice bunt by Jonathan Diaz to knot the score at two apiece.
N.C. State took its first lead of the game in the bottom of the third inning when Ryan Johnson reached base on a lead-off walk before he scored a run two batters later on a RBI-single through the right side by Mike Jensen to give NCSU a 3-2 advantage.
Virginia tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the sixth inning by manufacturing a run when Mark Reynolds led off the side with a walk, then advanced to second base on a balk before he took third base on a NCSU error. Reynolds eventually scored a run from third base on a double steal to even the score at three apiece.
The Cavaliers regained the lead in the top of the seventh inning and made the Wolfpack pay for two costly errors in the side. UVa had four consecutive batters step to the plate and bunt to start off the side, with the later being Tim Henry who laid down a bunt single (coupled with an error) that allowed Hagan (who reached base on an error himself) to score a run from second base on the play, giving Virginia a 4-3 lead.
The Wolfpack tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the eighth inning when Tim Holt walked with the bases loaded and no outs. But N.C. State was unable to score another run with the bases loaded and no outs after a ground out, strikeout and a fly out to end the inning.
Virginia answered right back in the top of the ninth inning and pulled ahead 5-4 when Hagan walked to lead off the side before being replaced by pinch runner Mike Mitchell. After a sacrifice bunt and fly out, Henry laced a RBI-single through the right side to drive in Mitchell for the go-ahead run.
But N.C. State wasn't finished. With two outs and nobody on base in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Wolfpack made one last run. Knight singled through the left side before he scored the game-tying run one batter later on a RBI-double to left-center field by Taylor. With Taylor on second base and two outs, Jake Muyco ripped a RBI-single down the right-field line that plated Taylor for the game-winning run to give NCSU a 6-5 victory.
The Cavaliers' Canon Hickman (8-3) took the loss after allowing two runs on three hits in 1.2 innings. Hickman strike out two batters. UVa starting pitcher Andrew Dobies went 7.0 innings in a no-decision and allowed four runs on ten hits to go along with a game-high five strikeouts.
N.C. State's Daniel Caldwell (3-1) posted the win after going just 0.1 of an inning. NCSU's starting pitcher Vern Sterry tossed 8.2 innings and allowed five runs (two earned) on five hit and struck out four batters in a no-decision.
With the loss, Virginia's record falls to 42-13 overall. The victory improves N.S. State's record to 35-21 on the season. UVa went 0-2 in the ACC Tournament, while N.C. State improves to 1-1 in the event and advances to the next round.
The Cavaliers will now await to see if they are selected to compete in the NCAA Regionals on June 4-6. The NCAA pairings will be announced on May 31st.
-- UVa --
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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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