A day after dropping a fiercely contested game to the #2 Louisville Cardinals, Virginia left no doubt dispatching the Cardinals 11-2 and evening their weekend series as one game apiece. Pavin Smith came up with the big fly, a grand slam in the fifth that broke a 2-2 tie and gave the Hoos all they would need to seal the victory. While the firepower came from the Virginia bats, it was Alec Bettinger on the mound who was terrific. The senior came on in the fourth inning in relief of Evan Sperling and never looked back. He pitched six shutout innings giving up only five hits, three walks, and adding three strike outs and ran his record on the year to 4-0.
Virginia got on the board first when Charlie Cody reached on a dropped fly ball by the Cardinals first basemen. That brought up freshman Caleb Knight who delivered his first home run of his college career, a shot to right center that gave Virginia a 2-0 lead. Louisville answered in the third when Devin Hairston hit a two-run home run of his own knotting the game at two and chasing Sperling from the game. The first year pitched just three innings with the home run the only hit he surrendered. He did walk three batters though, one of which scored on the Hairston home run.
Virginia broke it open in fifth off Louisville starter Kade McClure starting with a pair of singles by Ernie Clement and Andy Weber. A walk to Adam Haseley loaded the bases for Smith who ripped the first pitch he saw over the right field fence for his eighth home run of the season tying him for the team lead with Haseley.
The Hoos added two runs in the sixth when Jake McCarthy led off with a triple and scored on Clement’s sacrifice fly. Then a string of walks loaded the bases as Weber ended up scoring on a wild pitch to extend the Virginia lead to 8-2. The Cavaliers finally poured it on in the eighth scoring three more runs thanks to RBI doubles by Haseley and Smith and an RBI single by Cameron Simmons.
Smith led the way at the plate for Virginia going 2-3, driving in five runs on those two hits. Nate Eikhoff also had two hits for Virginia, while Clement, Weber, and Haseley joined Smith in scoring two runs each.
The loss for Louisville is just their third on the year and second in the ACC. Virginia improves to 21-7 with a 5-6 mark in the conference. The Hoos look to take the series Sunday when the two teams square off at 1 P.M. Haseley will be on the mound for Virginia while Louisville counters with Nick Bennett.