The Cavalier Daily
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Cavs barely miss Lancers' stab

The No. 17 Virginia baseball team outlasted the Longwood Lancers Wednesday, 6-4. The Cavaliers scored two runs in the eighth inning to win a game in which both starting pitchers lasted six innings and reach a record of 28-9.

Virginia's lineup ran Longwood starter Brian McCullough's pitch total up to 118 over six and two-thirds innings. Still, in the seventh inning after McCullough hit Virginia third baseman Patrick Wingfield with a pitch, the Longwood junior showed quick reflexes by gloving a line drive back to the pitcher's mound to make the final out of the inning.

The dogfight of a game was not unexpected.

"We knew [sophomore Pat McAnaney] would have to pitch a low run game," Virginia coach Brian O'Connor said. "Pat did a great job being matched up with Longwood's number one [pitcher]."

Still, the Cavaliers were unable to capitalize on key scoring opportunities. In total, Virginia stranded 10 runners on base, including being unable to bring junior Tim Henry home after a lead-off triple in the fifth. The game began as a pitching duel, going scoreless into the fifth.

The Cavaliers finally took advantage of their persistence late in the game, first knocking the submariner McCullough out in the seventh, and then pounding reliever Aaron Berg for two runs in the eighth.

The Cavaliers started off the game with Henry earning a lead-off walk, but Virginia didn't break into the scoring column until the fourth inning.

"We were getting guys in position to score," Henry said. "We knew that if we used the same approach, runs would come across. It'd be more frustrating if we weren't getting guys in scoring position."

The difficulty faced by Virginia's offense to close in some innings was shared by starter Pat McAnaney. In many at-bats, McAnaney could not get a third strike on the Longwood batters. McAnaney started off strong and finished with seven strike-outs, but most of the Lancers' five hits off of Virginia's starter came after the count had gone full. Reliever Michael Schwimer pitched the seventh and eighth innings and took the win in his set up role for junior Casey Lambert. Lambert only gave up a single hit in the top of the ninth to seal the win for the Cavaliers.

Smart base running was another key to the win for Virginia. After Ryan Hudson hit a pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth inning, junior Mike Mitchell came in to pinch-run for Hudson, and Mitchell eventually scored.

"It was an important run, the go-ahead run," O'Connor said. "With team speed you can put pressure on people every ball game."

Even though many of the runners were stranded, the Cavaliers still had no problem getting runners into scoring position, and designated hitter Sean Doolittle added a stolen base to Virginia's success on the base paths.

On paper, the Cavaliers were expected to win this game against the in-state opponent, yet Longwood, especially behind McCullough, their ace, played a lot better than their 18-19 record suggests. The Lancers kept the game close, but, eventually, their three errors came back to haunt them, as Virginia's final run came on a passed ball.

"Every team has to come in here ready to play," outfielder Brandon Marsh said.

The Cavaliers now look forward to a weekend series at home against ACC rival Boston College.