Virginia Baseball took a huge step towards an NCAA Tournament at-large berth with a 5-2 victory over the No. 9 Miami Hurricanes on a picture perfect spring day at Davenport Field. Coupled with their 5-4 win Friday night and Virginia improved to 24-14 overall, 9-11 in the ACC.
Friday night saw a couple of clutch performances, first by the Virginia bullpen who was called into action a little earlier than expected when starter Nathan Kirby exited the game with a strained left lat muscle. David Rosenberger performed brilliantly allowing just one run in 2.2 innings. Josh Sborz went a little longer than usual to record his 10th save of the season, allowing one run in 2.2.
Second, to support the pitching effort, the Hoos bats came alive with two outs. Four of Virginia's five runs came with two outs. At the plate Joe McCarthy continued his torrid hitting since returning to the lineup after recovering from back surgery by contributing two hits. Robbie Coman provided the run support with two hits and two RBI.
Saturday's game ball goes to Connor Jones who had arguably his best outing in a Virginia Cavaliers uniform. He pitched 7.2 innings scattering six hits, giving up two runs (one earned), and striking out a career-high 11 hitters. Beyond the box score however, his 7.2 innings meant that the bullpen, which had been taxed the night before, could get some crucial time off. Overall, it was exactly what Virginia needed from him. He gave the team seven plus strong innings and put them in position to win.
The teams were mired in a pitchers duel until the eighth inning when Charlie Cody changed the momentum of the game for good. The Hurricanes chased Jones from the game and were threatening with runners on first and second and trying to extend their 2-1 lead. Miami's Willie Abreu hit a base hit to left field and as Zach Collins tried to score from second, Cody fired a strike to catcher Robbie Coman who applied tag, surrendering Collins at the plate to end the threat.
In the bottom half, Robbie Coman led off with a double and Matt Thaiss drew a four-pitch walk. Then it was Cody again who laid down a perfect bunt down the third base line. Hurricane defenders waited for it to roll foul, but it never did loading the bases. Jack Gerstenmaier was then hit by pitch to knot the score at two. Adam Hasely then knocked in the go ahead runs with a line-drive single to center.
The Hoos go for the sweep tomorrow at 10 AM behind the arm of Brandon Waddell, who will square off against Miami's Enrique Sosa. Virginia hopes to earn another all-important ACC victory. After today's win, they moved into 9th place in the ACC which is good enough to qualify for the ACC Tournament. However, if they want to ensure themselves of playing on Memorial Day and then entering the NCAA Tournament, their quality play of late will have to continue.