Where would this team be without Connor Jones? Once again, Jones came out and did exactly what his team needed of him by tossing a gem and allowing his team to save the arms in the bullpen that are essential in a double-elimination tournament. He went 7.2 innings, gave up a single run on five hits and two walks while striking out four to earn the win. With all the news this week as to whether or not Nathan Kirby would be back this week, it was Connor Jones who came out and proved that right here, right now, he is Virginia's ace.
While Jones was masterful, USC starter Kyle Davis matched him pitch for pitch. Davis carried a no hitter through six innings until finally the Virginia bats came alive. The Hoos hit Davis hard all game, but the USC defense was superb. That is until the top of the seventh inning when Matt Thaiss' led off with a hard hit grounder to third that Blake Lacey couldn't come up with allowing Thaiss to reach on the error. Next up Kenny Townes got Virginia's first hit of the game to set up first and second with nobody out. Pavin Smith set down a perfect bunt to advance the runners and Robbie Coman delivered an RBI ground out to get the Hoos on the board. Townes would then score on a wild pitch that uncharacteristically got by Trojan catcher and PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year Garrett Stubbs and the Hoos would take a 2-0 lead.
Virginia would add another run in the eighth when Adam Hasely led off with a double to left, advanced to third on a Daniel Pinero sacrafice bunt, scored on an error by the second baseman off the bat of Thaiss giving the Cavaliers a 3-0 lead.
Jones came out to pitch the eighth and after retiring the first two batters got himself into a bit of trouble. After Stubbs walked and stole second, he scored on a Jeremy Martinez RBI single to make the score 3-1. That would be it for Jones who was relieved by Josh Sborz. Sborz came in and does what he does, striking out Timmy Robinson to end the threat.
The Hoos scored three more in the top of the ninth to put the icing on the cake. In the bottom of the ninth, Sborz retired the side in order to earn the save.
At the plate, Hasely led the way with two hits, an RBI, and a run scored. Ernie Clement added a hit, two RBIs, and a run scored. On the day, the Hoos tallied six runs on eight hits, all coming in the final three innings.
Virginia will face the winner of the game between host, UC Santa Barbara and Mountain West Champion, San Diego State Saturday night at 10 p.m.