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Virginia Baseball: Cavaliers take Game One 7-4

Virginia takes game one of the three game series behind another strong performance from Connor Jones, some stellar defense from Ernie Clement, and timely hitting by the Cavaliers' bats.

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Up until this point in the season, Virginia's woes in weekend series have come down to two things. The bullpen and men left on base. Well tonight, Virginia excelled in both areas. After struggling for the first couple innings, Connor Jones settled in to hold the Tar Heels to two runs through six innings. Then in the sixth, a lead off triple and a bloop base hit would chase Jones from the game. Enter Kevin Doherty who would squelch the North Carolina rally by registering the next three outs on routine pop-outs preserving a 5-3 lead. He proved to be a strong set up man, working a fairly easy eighth, then bouncing back after Tyler Lynn led off the ninth with a solo home run to get two quick outs before handing the ball over to Tommy Doyle. Doyle gave up a hit, but then struck out North Carolina's Tyler Ramirez to secure the Hoos' victory.

At the plate, the Hoos have been doomed by runners left on base. Tonight, a two out, three RBI triple by Nate Eikhoff would be the difference in the game as it gave the Hoos a 5-3 lead. Then in the eighth, Virginia was able to string together some hits and picked up two crucial insurance runs.

North Carolina got the scoring started in the second on a sacrifice fly to right with two outs. Cameron Simmons came up with a gun to the plate, the throw beat the runner tagging from third, but as Matt Thaiss went to make the tag, the ball got away, rolled into the UNC dugout allowing the runner from second to score as well. Virginia answered with a run in the bottom half of the inning as they manufactured a run with Pavin Smith scoring on Ryan Karstetter's RBI ground out to second.

Justin Novak led off the third with a single up the middle, moved to second on Ernie Clement's base hit to second, and scored on Thaiss' RBI single to right. After a Pavin Smith walk, Eikhoff cleared the bases with his triple to right center. The four run explosion gave the Hoos a 5-2 lead that would be good enough for the win.

Jones picked up the win going 6.0 innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on five hits, he walked five and struck out two. Zac Gallen registered the loss for North Carolina also going 6.0 innings, and giving up five earned runs on six hits.

Thaiss paced the Cavaliers offense with two hits, an RBI and a run scored. Novak also chipped in two hits and scored one run. In the field, Clement was a one man wrecking crew coming up with a gorgeous diving play to his right to not only get the out but to keep the running from advancing to third int he fourth inning. Then two innings later, he caught a low line drive up the middle and was able to double up the runner at first to preserve an easy inning for Jones.

Virginia will have two chances at the all-important series win starting Saturday at 4 p.m. Adam Haseley takes the mound for Virginia looking to improve on his 6-0 season record.