CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – No. 27 Virginia evened the ACC series with Virginia Tech at one win apiece after posting a 4-3 victory on Saturday afternoon at Davenport Field, plating the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning.
The victory improves the Cavaliers to 8-5-1 on the season, 1-1 in the conference, while the Hokies suffer just their third setback of the year and are now 12-3 overall and also 1-1 in the ACC.
After leading the bases loaded in the first, the Hokies plated the first run of the game in the second. Gabe Ortiz drew a walk with a nine-pitch at-bat, then stole second and moved to third on Chad Morgan’s sacrifice bunt. Alex Perez then notched his team-high tying 13th RBI of the season with another sacrifice bunt, scoring Ortiz.
Virginia answered back in the bottom of the frame, as three singles loaded the bases with just one out. Chris Taylor brought home the first run with a sacrifice fly to center, which also moved Mitchell Shifflett to third. The Cavaliers then executing a double steal to plate their second run.
Mark Zagunis led off the top of the third with a solo home run – his second of the year – to even the game at 2-all.
After that home run, each team’s starter – lefties Joe Mantiply for Tech and Virginia’s Scott Silverstein – settled in and combined to retire 20 of the next 22 batters, which included Silverstein’s string of 11 straight Hokies before Andrew Rash hit his fourth home run of the year – a solo shot in the top of the sixth.
The Cavaliers threatened in the bottom of the frame to possibly take back the lead, but some fine fielding by the Hokies allowed just one run to score. A lead-off walk was followed by a single from Nick Howard. On a sacrifice bunt attempt, Morgan threw to third to get the lead runner. Then after a double steal, Johnny Morales stabbed a grounder in the hole to get the second out, but the tying run scored before Tech got out of the inning.
Jake Atwell took over on the mound in the eighth inning for Tech and struck out the first two batters he faced. However, back to back singles by Nate Irving and Shifflett that sandwiched a wild pitch allowed Irving to score the winning run.
Silverstein went six innings and struck out nine, while Shane Halley (1-1) pitched two scoreless innings and Justin Thompson picked up his first save of the year with a perfect ninth. Atwell suffered his first loss of the year, while Mantiply went seven innings and struck out one.
The two teams will complete the three-game ACC series with a single game on Sunday with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m.
For updates on Virginia Tech baseball, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_Baseball).