For the second week in a row, second year Connor Jones did exactly what his team needed. Last Saturday he worked 7.2 innings setting a career high in strike outs and giving the Virginia bullpen, which had been taxed the night before, a virtual night off. Tonight he stepped in for Virginia's injured Friday night starter, Nathan Kirby, and pitched like an ace. He went seven innings, gave up three earned runs on five hits, and tied his career high with another 11 strike outs. Over his last two starts he has gone 14.2 giving up five runs (four earned), on 11 hits and five walks, while striking out 22.
The night started off as a pitchers duel, but after picking up a run in the fifth, the Hoos broke the game open in the top of the sixth when they sent 11 batters to the plate and scored five runs to take a 6-0 lead. Pavin Smith led off the inning with a double, and after Robbie Coman reached on a bunt single, Joe McCarthy hit a rocket that NC State second baseman Logan Ratledge wasn't able to handle as Smith scored. Adam Hasely and Daniel Pinero added RBI singles before Matt Thaiss provided the big shot of the inning with his two-run double to center.
The Wolfpack showed some life in the bottom of the seventh when Jones gave up a walk and hit a batter before NC State first baseman Preston Palmeiro launched a pitch over the center field wall for a three-run home run. Jones settled down to retire the next two batters preserving the Hoo's three-run lead.
Virginia would tack on runs in the eighth and ninth while Alec Bettinger pitched the final two innings striking out four to preserve the UVA win.
Thaiss led the way at the plate going 3-5 with four RBIs and a run scored, while Smith chipped in three hits with a run scored.
The two teams are back at it on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Brandon Waddell takes the hill for the Cavaliers and faces NC State's Cory Wilder. The Hoos are looking for their first series win in Raleigh during Coach Brian O'Connor's tenure in Charlottesville.