In a game that boggled the mind, the Virginia Cavaliers’ pitching staff threw an 11 inning combined no-hitter on Wednesday night. The Cavaliers were able to fend off the William and Mary Tribe 4-3 in one of the most confusing, fun and frustrating games in recent memory.
Six Virginia pitchers combined to throw the first no-hitter since Nathan Kirby in 2014. Starting pitcher Bobby Nicholson threw 5.1 scoreless, no-hit innings before he walked two in the top of the sixth, bringing in Blake Rohm. Rohm’s night started on a rocky note when he immediately threw a wild pitch, moving the William and Mary runners to second and third and walked the first batter he faced. He was able to work out of the jam only surrendering 1 run on a ground out to shortstop and the no-hitter survived the sixth inning.
Grant Donahue entered the game for the Cavaliers in the seventh. He too had a rough start as he hit the first batter of the inning, and after a sacrifice bunt, the runner advanced to third on a wild pitch. The Tribe went on to score on a sacrifice fly but ended the seventh still hitless.
The eighth inning was tense as well. Riley Wilson entered the game but only made it through a third of an inning after walking the first man he faced. Mack Meyer came on for the ‘Hoos and closed down the William and Mary threat without surrendering a hit.
Meyer recorded the first out of the ninth before he was replaced by the closer, Bennett Sousa. Sousa, who worked two innings out of the bullpen against VMI last night, was equally sharp in this battle as he ended the ninth and tenth innings without much sweat.
The eleventh inning was the worst defensive frame Virginia baseball has played this season. Sousa recorded the first two outs of the inning with relative ease, forcing a ground out and blowing a fastball past the second hitter. Then, chaos ensued. The next three Tribe batters reached base on three consecutive Virginia errors, each by different players. Justin Novak kicked off the events with an errant throw to first, Sousa followed that guffaw with a shaky throw to first that Nate Eikhoff couldn’t pull in and Andy Weber’s fielding error at 2nd Base allowed William and Mary to take a 3-2 lead in the eleventh inning WITHOUT A HIT. Sousa ended the madness with a strikeout and sent the offense to work to make up for the uncharacteristically poor defense.
The bottom of the eleventh started out on a positive note, with Charlie Cody’s single to center. Tanner Morris reached base after he was hit on the first pitch he saw and Alex Tappen was almost able to beat out his sacrifice bunt, but did his job by moving the runners to second and third with just one out. The nine-hole batter for Virginia, freshman catcher Brendan Rivoli drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases, prompting a pitching change by William and Mary before Jake McCarthy came to bat. McCarthy was unable to end the game as he popped out to shortstop to make the second out.
Justin Novak, who was a career 9-18 against the Tribe came up and on the second pitch of the at-bat rolled a dribbler to the third baseman. The William and Mary fielder fielded the ball cleanly but short-hopped his throw to first allowing Charlie Cody to score. The first baseman reacted slowly when the ball hit off his glove and Tanner Morris came sprinting home to give the ‘Hoos the beautifully ugly win.
Virginia was led offensively by… well not really anybody as the Tribe pitching staff held the previously scorching hot Cavalier offense at bay. The only earned run given up by William and Mary came in the first inning by way of Jake McCarthy scoring when Andy Weber grounded into a double play.
With the win, Virginia has now won four games in a row and moves to 6-3 on the season. The Cavaliers will face Yale in Charlottesville for a three game series starting Friday at 3pm.