From UVa athletics:
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Nathan Kirby (So., Midlothian, Va.) pitched 7 2/3 innings and struck out 12, and Brandon Downes (Jr., South Plainfield, N.J.) homered and drove in all three Virginia runs in the top-ranked Cavaliers' 3-2 victory over North Carolina Friday evening in front of 4,576 at Davenport Field. Virginia improved to 32-6 overall and 15-4 in ACC play with the win.
"Obviously Nathan Kirby is locked in and continues to pitch at a very high level week after week," Virginia head coach Brian O'Connor said. "He is showing that he is a really high quality Friday night starter. He was terrific tonight. He needed to be because (Trent) Thornton is equally as good. Tonight it came down to one pass by Brandon Downes on the home run that he hit. That was great to see. I thought Downes took a lot better swings than he has. Overall, it was a very well-played game with little margin for error. I'm just glad our guys did a little bit more and handled the baseball defensively. We did what we needed to do in order to win. I would imagine that tomorrow and Sunday will be no different."
Kirby (8-1) won the showdown of the ACC's two winningest pitchers of 2014, outdueling UNC ace Trent Thornton (7-2), who worked six innings and allowed three earned runs. Kirby gave up two earned runs, six hits and two walks while striking out a dozen, the second most in his career. Kirby recorded his 10th straight quality start of the season (at least six innings pitched and three runs or fewer allowed).
Whit Mayberry (R-Sr., Alexandria, Va.) notched a key strikeout with a runner in scoring position to wrap up the eighth inning before Nick Howard (Jr., Olney, Md.) struck out the side in the ninth inning to earn his 12th save in as many opportunities. The UVa pitching trio combined to strike out 16 UNC batters.
John La Prise (So., Exton, Pa.) recorded three of Virginia's nine hits, while Downes and Howard each picked up a pair of hits. Howard scored two of UVa's runs.
Virginia struck for a pair of runs in the second inning when Downes hit a two-run home run into the left-field bleachers. The long ball, Downes' fifth of the year, also scored Howard.
North Carolina (22-16, 9-10) tied the score in the sixth inning. Skye Bolt drew a leadoff walk and moved to third with one out on a Landon Lassiter double. Parks Jordan grounded out to score Bolt, and a wild pitch allowed Lassiter to scamper home.
Virginia promptly responded in its half of the sixth. Howard ripped the first pitch to center for a single and advanced to third on a hit-and-run single from La Prise. Downes then hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Howard.
Carolina threatened in the eighth inning as Wood Myers hit a leadoff single and moved to second on a Bolt sacrifice. Kirby struck out Tom Zengel before Mayberry came on in relief to strike out Lassiter for the final out of the inning.
The second game of the series is set for 1 p.m. Saturday, while the series finale will be played at 1 p.m. Sunday. The Saturday contest will be televised by the ACC's Regional Sports Networks, including CSN Mid-Atlantic in the Charlottesville area.---------------------------
From VT athletics:
BLACKSBURG - For the fifth time this ACC season, Virginia Tech baseball lost a Friday night one-run game, as it came up on the short end of a 12-inning, 3-2 decision against the Duke Blue Devils at English Field.
The loss dropped the Hokies, in conference-games only, to 2-6 in one-run games this year, and they are 2-1 in two-run contests.
Duke (22-17, 10-9 ACC) scored the game winner on a sacrifice fly by Kenny Koplove that scored Cristian Perez, who hit a one-out triple in the 12th.
The Hokies (18-18-1, 7-12) appeared to have completed a comeback and taken a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning when Mark Zagunis, with the bases loaded and two outs, beat out an infield single but was called out.
Keselica, who made the start on the mound for the Hokies, went 7.1 innings, scattered three hits and struck out three, but walked six batters and allowed two earned runs.
Duke starter Drew Van Orden threw seven innings, allowed just two hits, walked two and struck out three.
It was Keselica that drove in Tech's first run with a single in the fifth frame that brought home Brendon Hayden.
The game was decided by the bullpens as Robert Huber allowed the Tech tying run to cross the plate, but Nick Hendrix ended the eighth-inning threat, then pitched the last four innings, allowing two hits and striking out seven.
He picked up the win and is now 2-1, while Brad Markey, who went three innings with two strikeouts, was saddled with the loss and is now 2-5.
The two teams will continue the three-game ACC series with a game on Saturday at 2 p.m.
From LU athletics:
BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. - The No. 30 Liberty Flames broke a 1-1 tie with three runs in the ninth inning, en route to a 4-1 win over the Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs, Friday afternoon at John Henry Moss Stadium.
The Flames took advantage of two Runnin' Bulldogs' errors to go in front for good in top of the ninth. With the score tie at 1-1, second baseman Ryan Seiz led off the inning with a sharp single to left field. Tray Roberts, who entered in the bottom of the eighth as a defensive replacement, followed by laying down a perfect sacrifice bunt, which Gardner-Webb catcher Brantley Smith threw away at first base, sending Seiz scrambling for third. A throw in an attempt to throw out Seiz by Bulldog right fielder sailed high, allowing Roberts to reach second and Seiz to score for a 2-1 Liberty lead.
After another perfect bunt by the next batter, shortstop Dalton Britt, put Liberty runners on the corners, first baseman Alex Close lifted a sacrifice fly to plate Roberts for a two-run edge. Catcher Danny Grauer followed with a RBI single to left field to give the Flames what proved to be the winning margin of 4-1.
Liberty moves to 16-1 in Big South play and 32-9 overall. The win extends the Flames' Big South Conference winning streak to 14 consecutive games. Gardner-Webb drops to 7-10 in conference action and 16-23 overall.
Gardner-Webb plated the game's first run in the home half of the contest's opening inning. Right fielder J.J. Nazzaro led off the inning with a single back through the middle of the diamond and stole second. After moving to third base on a ground out, Nazzaro scored on a ground out by first baseman Scott Coleman for a 1-0 edge.
Liberty starter pitcher Blake Fulghum worked around a leadoff triple in the bottom of the fifth. Third baseman Henry Rundio opened the inning with a triple into the right field corner. But, Fulghum was able to get the next Gardner-Webb batter to foul out, before spoiling a squeeze bunt attempt by center fielder Alex Newman, catching Rundio in a rundown for the second out of the inning. The left-hander then struck out Newman to keep the Flames within one run at 1-0.
After being held off the scoreboard through six innings by Bulldogs' starting pitcher Andrew Barnett, Liberty broke through with a run in the top of the seventh to tie the contest. With one out, Britt dropped a double into the left field. Two batters later, Grauer ripped a two-out single into left field, knotting the game at 1-1.
In the bottom of the inning, Gardner-Webb began the inning with a double by designated hitter Matt Simmons. But he was stranded when Liberty center fielder Ashton Perritt took away a hit off the bat of Runnin' Bulldogs' center fielder Alex Newman with a diving catch in the right-center field gap to end the inning.
Fulghum and Barnett locked in a pitchers' duel through the first six innings, but neither pitcher figuring in the decision. Fulghum allowed one run on six hits over 6 1/3 innings, striking out five batters.
Shawn Clowers pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Fulghum, before Perritt took over in the eighth. Perritt pitched the final 1 1/3 innings to even his record at 1-1 on the year.
Reliever Mitch Warner falls to 1-3 on the year for Gardner-Webb. He allowed three runs on three hits over two innings of relief.
Liberty outhit Gardner-Webb, 8-6, in the contest. Grauer collected three hits and drove in two runs for the Flames. It is Grauer's second three-hit game of the season.
Liberty and Gardner-Webb will complete their three-game Big South series tomorrow afternoon at Moss Stadium. Game time is scheduled for 2 p.m.
From VMI athletics:
LEXINGTON, Va. - The VMI Keydets got the tying or go-ahead run to the plate four times in their last two at-bats, but the late rally fell short as VMI was edged by the Longwood Lancers, 6-4, in Big South baseball action Friday at Gray-Minor Stadium in Lexington, Va. The result evened the series at one game apiece.
Trailing 6-2 in the eighth, VMI (21-15, 9-8 Big South) pushed across a run on Cameron Walter's RBI single to cut the deficit to three. David Geary followed with a single, bringing up Thomas Stallings as the tying run. Stallings reached on a fielding error by third baseman Brandon Harvell, allowing Walter to score and Will Connerley to hit as the go-ahead run. Connerley grounded out to shortstop on a very close call that was heavily disputed at first base by the VMI coaching staff, ending the inning.
The Keydets then brought the tying run to the plate twice more in the ninth against Longwood (15-24, 5-12 Big South) reliever Aaron Myers. Jordan Tarsovich and Eric Mayers hit with one on, but were retired on a pop-up and strikeout, respectively, to end the game.
Longwood led from the third batter of the game on, helped by eight strong innings from Brandon Vick. Vick (4-4) allowed two earned runs in his outing, striking out eight without issuing a walk. He threw 135 pitches in the game. Myers, Longwood's scheduled starter for Saturday's series finale, picked up the save with a shutout ninth, while Connor Bach (2-6) took the loss after being charged with six runs in 6 1/3 innings.
The Lancers jumped ahead quickly, as Colton Konvicka led off the game with a bloop double to right. C.J. Roth sacrificed him to third, and Brandon Delk followed with a RBI single for a 1-0 Longwood lead. Kyri Washington then singled to left and moved to second on a throw to third, as Delk slid in under the tag to put two runners aboard. Matt Dickason doubled them both home for a 3-0 Longwood lead.
The Keydets got a run back in the bottom half, thanks to a two-out single by Walter that scored Tarsovich, who had reached on an error. VMI then cut the lead to one in the third, thanks to Mayers' fourth home run of the season, a drive to straightaway left field that made it a 3-2 game.
That was as close as the home team would get, however, as Harvell answered with his first collegiate home run in the fourth inning to make it 4-2, Lancers. Longwood then added two in the seventh on a two-run single by Delk off Rian Ellis, making it 6-2 before the Keydet comeback attempt began in the eighth.
At the plate, Walter and Geary had two hits apiece, with Walter driving in two of VMI's four runs. Delk went 2 for 5 with three RBI's to pace the visitors.
VMI baseball returns to action Saturday, wrapping up its series with Longwood at Gray-Minor Stadium. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.
From LC athletics:
LYNCHBURG, VA - Freshman KC Caldwell belted two home runs and the Lynchburg College baseball team scored 12 runs in the second inning to down Southern Virginia University 16-3 in non-conference action Friday afternoon.
The Hornets started off the bottom of the second inning with a single by Jake Tanner before a pair of errors put Joe Tomasulo on first and advanced Tanner to third. Following a strikeout, Knight starter Colin Bigelow walked Andrew Gauvain to load the bases for Caldwell.
Caldwell, getting his first start in center field, chopped a ball down the third base line where it stopped for an infield, RBI single that plated Tanner. Joe Rogers followed with a line shot that deflected off Bigelow and went into left field, scoring two more for a 3-0 Lynchburg lead. Rob Tomasulo made it 4-0 on a sacrifice fly before Pat Harris doubled in Rogers for a 5-0 advantage. That is when a crucial defensive miscue and two big blasts sprung the Hornets to a commanding lead.
Wil Parsons walked to put runners on first and second for Jake Tanner who launched a ball over the left-center field wall for his third homer of the season and an 8-0 lead. The blast also made him the first Hornet in 2014 to top the 30-RBI plateau.
After a walk to Joe Tomasulo, Joseph Knight flied a ball to left field with two outs, but the ball popped out of the leftfielder's glove to keep the game alive. Andrew Gauvain doubled down the left field line to clear the bases, bringing Caldwell back to the plate. The freshman, already with an RBI single in the second, sent a deep drive over the wall in left for his first career homer and a 12-0 Hornet advantage.
Trey Elder (1-0) kept the Southern Virginia offense at bay, limiting the Knights to four hits, only one for extra bases, while walking two and striking out two over seven scoreless frames.
Caldwell got another chance to add to the Hornet lead in the fourth when he waited on another breaking ball, sending it over the wall to the same spot as his first round-tripper.
Ryan Gabriel went 2-for-4 for Southern Virginia (5-24) while collected a pair of RBI and a run scored. Chris Madison entered in the fourth inning and struck out three, surrendering one unearned run on six hits in 4 1/3 innings pitched.
Caldwell finished the day 3-for-6 with three runs scored and six RBI. His two homer performance was the first by a Hornet this season. Rogers went 4-for-5 with a pair of RBI while Seth Perry pitched a perfect ninth inning for Lynchburg.
Lynchburg (21-10/8-9) travels to Bridgewater College (24-8/12-4) for an Old Dominion Athletic Conference doubleheader at noon. Lynchburg needs to win two of its final three games to clinch a spot in the ODAC tournament next Thursday.