No. 20 baseball sweeps Pitt, extends win-streak to five games
After taking two series from ACC rivals No. 19 North Carolina (26-15, 9-12 ACC) and No. 4 Miami (30-8, 14-5 ACC), the No. 20 Virginia baseball team capped off an impressive April with a three-game series sweep against Pittsburgh.
The Cavaliers (30-17, 14-10 ACC) began their dominant series with a 5-1 victory against the Panthers (21-16, 8-11 ACC) Saturday in the first game of what would turn out to be a very exciting doubleheader. Virginia was led by junior right-hander Connor Jones (9-1, 1.95 ERA), who managed five strikeouts and allowed just one run while notching his second complete game of the 2016 season.
Contrasting to the opening-game blowout, Saturday’s second game was exciting down to the final pitch.
After jumping out to an early 5-0 lead, Pittsburgh slowly clawed its way back into the contest behind the steady hitting of sophomore shortstop Charles Leblanc (.426 BA, 40 RBI) and sophomore centerfielder Frank Maldonado (.328 BA, 19 RBI), managing to eventually take the lead in the bottom of the sixth. But just when it looked like Virginia fans would have to settle for, at best, a 2-1 series split, sophomore third baseman Justin Novak (.286 BA, 26 RBI) ripped a double into left field, driving in two runs to lift the Cavaliers to a 7-6 victory, keeping the possibility of a sweep alive.
Following the adrenaline-filled win, Virginia stepped back out onto the field Sunday afternoon and torched the Pittsburgh pitching staff for nine runs in what would turn out to be a commanding, drama-free 9-1 Cavalier victory. The offense was anchored by sophomore center fielder Ernie Clement (.348 BA, 20 RBI) and junior shortstop Daniel Pinero (.315 BA, 28 RBI), who racked up three hits apiece and combined for four RBIs.
Sophomore lefty Adam Haseley (7-2, 1.35 ERA) also came with his A-plus game Sunday, throwing eight innings of shutout ball and allowing a paltry five hits.
The Cavaliers now sit second in the ACC Coastal rankings as they continue to push towards their fifteenth straight NCAA tournament appearance.