No. 6 Baseball drops season-opener, rebounds with two straight wins
The No. 6 Virginia baseball team opened its 2014 season this weekend, competing in the Hughes Bros. Challenge at Brooks Field in Wilmington, N.C. The Cavaliers lost to Kentucky Friday afternoon, 8-3, but rebounded to take decisive wins against Virginia Military Institute and their hosts, the Seahawks.
Virginia (2-1) generated ample opportunities to score against the Wildcats but failed to consistently cash in. The Cavaliers knocked five hits and worked five walks, but stood 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position at the afternoon’s end and left 11 men on base. The team’s lack of clutch hitting was problematic on a day when sophomore left-hander Brandon Waddell surrendered seven hits and six runs, all earned, in four and one-third innings of work.
But the Cavalier offense roared to life Saturday in a 12-0 win against the Keydets. Virginia pounded out 12 hits in 35 at-bats — including triples from junior left fielder Derek Fisher and junior designated hitter Nick Howard — and drew seven walks against just three strikeouts.
Sophomore starter Nathan Kirby backed up talk of marked offseason improvement, turning in six shutout innings and setting down seven Keydet batters on strikes. Junior centerfielder Brandon Downes finished 2-for-5 with three RBIs, and sophomore catcher Robbie Coman was 2-for-2, scoring two runs and a pair of RBIs.
Virginia kept the momentum going against UNC-Wilmington, building a 7-0 lead by the bottom of the seventh inning and holding on for a 7-2 win. Sophomore right-hander Josh Sborz induced 11 groundouts and allowed no hits in six shutout innings, and Fisher tallied two more hits and a pair of RBIs to conclude the weekend with a team-best .455 batting average.
The Cavaliers play their home-opener Tuesday afternoon against William & Mary. First pitch is set for 3 p.m. at Davenport Field.