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10th-inning hijinks send Cavs to loss

BLACKSBURG-The Virginia baseball program has a long rivalry with the Hokies of Virginia Tech, but the Cavs 7-6 loss in Blacksburg yesterday might go down as one of the most bizarre meetings yet.

After fighting their way back from four runs down to send the game into extra innings, the Cavaliers (17-23-1, 5-10 ACC) suffered a 10th-inning meltdown to lose their fifth game in a row.

Cav pitcher Alexander Starr opened the bottom of the 10th by walking the first batter. Hokie center fielder Gray Hodges then laid down a sacrifice bunt, and Virginia first baseman Jon Benick tried to erase the lead runner at second, but the throw sailed wide of the bag, kept out of centerfield only because it hit second base umpire Wayne Morris.

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    Tech then loaded the bases on another bunt, when Benick slipped on the rain-soaked infield grass. Starr quickly ended the inning by hitting the next Hokie batter, third baseman Chad Foutz, with the first pitch to force in the winning run.

    "This series has been crazy," Tech coach Chuck Hartman said. "I told [Cav] coach [Dennis] Womack after the game, we've had them end a lot of different ways, but this is one of the most unusual."

    The Cavaliers out-hit Virginia Tech 17-10, but they wasted several offensive opportunities early in the game and walked six Hokie batters.

    Tech took an early 4-0 lead, but RBI singles by left fielder David Stone in the fifth and catcher Mark Rueffert in the sixth pulled the Cavs within two.

    Virginia held the lead briefly after a three-run seventh. With two outs, senior Tim LaVigne hit a two-run double to rightfield and then scored on a double by center fielder Michael Floyd to make it 5-4.

    The Hokies put up single runs in the seventh and eighth to retake the lead, but Virginia still had a chance to win in the top of the ninth.

    Down 6-5, Benick started the inning with a double and scored on a single by Floyd to tie the game. The Cavs loaded the bases with one out, but Rueffert hit into a double play to end the threat.

    "We had enough hits to win a lot of ball games, but we just didn't execute well enough to win," Womack said. "We made a couple of base-running mistakes and just couldn't get it done at the end. We need to play with a little more heart and a little more enthusiasm"