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Baseball defeats USC 6-1, advances to winner’s bracket

Behind another strong outing by sophomore Connor Jones, third-seeded Virginia baseball dropped No. 2 seed USC 6-1 in the opening game of the Lake Elsinore Regional Friday night. The Cavaliers claimed their NCAA tournament opener for the seventh consecutive season.

Jones worked 7.2 innings of five-hit, one-run ball. The right hander walked two and struck out four while picking up his sixth win of the season.

Trojan junior Kyle Davis dueled with Jones throughout the evening and took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning. Davis recorded 26 outs and allowed six runs — three earned — on seven hits and two walks.

Virginia (35-22, 15-15 ACC) broke out in the seventh with two runs on one hit. Sophomore Matt Thaiss led the inning by reaching on an error. The next batter, senior Kenny Towns, ripped a Davis offering into left field for the Cavaliers’ first hit of the game. Following a sacrifice by freshman Pavin Smith, Thaiss would score on a 1-3-1 groundout. Towns would later come home on a wild pitch.

After tacking on one in the top of the eight, Virginia scored three more times in the game’s final frame. Freshman Ernie Clement’s bloop double scored senior Thomas Woodruff and junior Joe McCarthy. A single from the bat of freshman Adam Haseley drove home Clement for the game’s final run.

Junior Josh Sborz secured the final four outs for the Cavaliers en route to his 13th save. Sborz did not allow a baserunner and recorded one strikeout.

Virginia faces fourth-seeded San Diego State — who knocked off host UC Santa Barbara 4-3 Friday night — Saturday. USC and the Gauchos (40-15-1, 16-8 Big West) also play Saturday in an elimination contest.

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