Baseball drops series to No. 2 Louisville
Virginia falls to ACC Rival
The No. 16 Virginia baseball team dropped a tough series to No. 2 Louisville at home this weekend. The Cardinals (24-3, 10-2 ACC) took two games of three from the Cavaliers (21-8, 5-7 ACC).
The first game of the series went down to the wire, with Louisville eventually taking down Virginia 5-2 after breaking out with some late runs. The game was scoreless through two innings before Louisville sophomore catcher Colby Fitch homered against Virginia freshman starter Noah Murdock in the third inning. The homer was one of the only mistakes Murdock made in his impressive ACC starting debut. The freshman gave up two runs in six innings, which surely made a good impression on coach Brian O’Connor as he looks to find a stable rotation.
Virginia had the tough task of taking on Louisville’s ace, junior starter Brendan McKay. The Cavaliers were able to tie the game with McKay on the mound after a triple by junior shortstop Ernie Clement led to an RBI groundout by junior outfielder Jake McCarthy. But that was all the Cavaliers could muster against McKay. The teams would trade runs in the sixth and seventh innings, entering the eighth in a 2-2 tie. McKay broke the tie himself with a solo shot off of sophomore reliever Chesdin Harrington, the first run Harrington allowed this year. Fitch would homer again in the ninth inning to cement the win for the Cardinals.
The Cavaliers responded to the Friday loss with authority Saturday, pummeling Louisville, 11-2. Junior catcher Caleb Knight continued his hot streak for Virginia with a two-run homer to open up scoring in the second inning. Louisville would knot the game at two after a homer from sophomore shortstop Devin Hairston, which chased Virginia sophomore starter Evan Sperling from the game.
Virginia would go ahead for good in the fifth inning when junior outfielder Pavin Smith crushed a grand slam — the second of his career — off of Louisville junior Rabon Martin. The Cardinals were unable to mount a comeback against senior reliever Alec Bettinger, who delivered yet another lights-out performance out of the bullpen. Bettinger did not allow a run in six innings of relief, lowering his ERA to 1.21.
"Alec Bettinger again was terrific out of the bullpen,” O’Connor said. “He got the game under control and allowed us to do some things offensively and open the game up a little bit. It was a great bounceback win for our guys today, and we're excited to come out tomorrow and have a chance to win the series."
Virginia would get five more insurance runs in the final few innings to cap an impressive win against Louisville. Five different Cavaliers had RBIs, with Smith’s five leading the way.
The rubber match of the series was a nail biter until the end. Virginia struck first off an RBI single from junior pitcher Adam Haseley in the first inning. Louisville would get two runs back against Haseley in the second inning, but he settled down from there, striking out five and only allowing those two runs in seven innings.
Virginia took a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning on a two-out RBI single by McCarthy, and held the slim lead for most of the game. The Cardinals came back in the eighth inning, however, plating two runs against Virginia junior closer Tommy Doyle. Louisville’s bullpen closed out the 4-3 game and handed Doyle his first loss of the season.
“That was a great college baseball game between two really good teams,” O’Connor said. “Unfortunately, we had opportunities throughout the game to open it up a little bit and we didn’t do that.”
The Cavaliers will look to bounce back Tuesday when Old Dominion comes to Davenport Field. The game will begin at 5 p.m.