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No. 12 baseball wins one of three against North Carolina

All three games in this series were close — the Cavaliers losing 3-2, 2-1 and then winning 3-2 in the final matchup

<p>Virginia and North Carolina have a history of games decided by one run — the final game in this series was the sixth straight dating back to 2019.</p>

Virginia and North Carolina have a history of games decided by one run — the final game in this series was the sixth straight dating back to 2019.

In a three-game weekend series in Chapel Hill, N.C., Virginia was only able to win one as North Carolina put on a strong pitching performance. Thursday, the Cavaliers (4-3, 1-2 ACC) lost 3-2 after only driving runs in during the eighth inning. The results of the second game were no better, as Virginia dropped the competition 2-1. In the third game, the Cavaliers finally shined and beat the Tar Heels (6-1, 2-1 ACC) with a final score 3-2.

Game 1 — Virginia 2, North Carolina 3

Senior left-hander Andrew Abbott led the Cavaliers on the mound throughout the game — one that truly came down to the pitching. Abbott struck out six batters and allowed three runs in the seven innings he pitched.

The Tar Heels would score their first run in the first inning with a two-out RBI double. Following that, the second and third innings were low-profile for both teams.

In the fourth, senior outfielder Marc Lebreux became the first Virginia runner to reach base all day. He drew a walk to do so, but it ultimately didn’t impact the score. The walk did, however, extend Lebreux’s reached base streak to a whopping 20 games dating back to last season.

In the fifth and sixth innings, North Carolina would score another run in each — bringing its lead to 3-0. The Tar Heels nearly pitched a no-hitter in the seventh, but junior infielder Zack Gelof broke that with a single.

Virginia would come alive in the eighth inning and score two runs. Senior outfielder Brendan Rivoli soared a ball down the left-field line and reached second base, and graduate catcher Logan Michaels would follow with a single. Both upperclassmen would end up running in after ground balls by both sophomore outfielder Chris Newell and sophomore infielder Max Cotier.

Junior right-hander Zach Messinger would take over for Abbott and pitch a scoreless frame at the top of the inning, leaving the Cavaliers still down by just one run.

In their final turn at-bat, Gelof would hit a ball deep into centerfield that would somehow be caught over-the-shoulder by a Tar Heel. That would be the last notable play of the game, and Virginia would finish down 3-2.

Game 2 — Virginia 1, North Carolina 2

In the second inning, senior right-hander Griff McGarry would continue on the bump for the Cavaliers after drawing up a scoreless first. He would strike out three batters, but give up one run, making the score 1-0 in favor of North Carolina early on.

The Tar Heels would add another run after stealing home in the fourth inning with McGarry still pitching, bringing their lead to two.

The Cavaliers would get on the board in the fifth inning off a hit from Cotier that brought Michaels to the plate. This was the sixth-straight game that Michaels has reached base.

Throughout the rest of the game, the Virginia pitching squad would prevent North Carolina from driving in runs. Senior right-hander Blake Bales and sophomore right-hander Matt Wyatt combined on the effort to record the final nine outs, pitching 1.2 and 1.1 innings, respectively. 

In the sixth and seventh innings, the Cavaliers had the opportunity to tie up the game, but excellent Tar Heel pitching would prevent them from doing so. The game ended with a final score 2-1 in favor of North Carolina. 

Game 3 – Virginia 3, North Carolina 2

Looking to avenge the previous two close losses, Virginia put on a much stronger performance during the third game of the series.

Junior right-hander Mike Vasil started for the Cavaliers on the mound. In the six innings that he pitched, Vasil allowed only four hits and did not allow a single run.

Thanks to Vasil’s efforts on Virginia’s side and solid North Carolina pitching, the first three frames were scoreless.

In the fourth inning, senior outfielder Christian Hlinka recorded his first hit of the 2021 campaign, pushing junior infielder Nic Kent into home plate. The fifth inning brought more action for Kent, as he hit his first home run of the year — a strong hit over the left wall that brought in two runs. Now up 3-0, the Cavaliers hoped to maintain their lead.

North Carolina woke up during the seventh inning after a dead sixth, putting the first three batters in the lineup on base. This effort gave the Tar Heels two runs, cutting their deficit to just one.

Virginia would bring graduate right-hander Stephen Schoch to the bump in the eighth. After inheriting a field with a runner on second and two outs on the board, Schoch did what he does best — close the game. He pitched a perfect ninth inning and recorded his third save of this season, securing the Cavaliers’ first win in this series.

After spending these few days in Chapel Hill, the Cavaliers will return home to play Tuesday against George Washington. The midweek matchup will be aired on ACCNX at 3 p.m.

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