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Virginia clinches series 2-1 against No. 6 Georgia Tech

After a narrow loss Thursday night, the Cavaliers rallied back on offense to secure the series against the ranked Yellow Jackets

<p>Kent's grand slam in the second game against Georgia Tech was Virginia's fifth grand slam in its last 43 games.</p>

Kent's grand slam in the second game against Georgia Tech was Virginia's fifth grand slam in its last 43 games.

Virginia suffered a narrow loss Thursday night as it opened its series against No. 6 Georgia Tech at Mac Nease Park in Atlanta, Ga. In the next games, however, the Cavaliers (13-14, 6-12 ACC) ignited offensively, producing 31 hits in the three matchups. The team’s explosive offense closed out the series Saturday afternoon with a six-run ninth inning to produce an 11-4 victory over the Yellow Jackets (14-9, 11-7 ACC).

Game 1 — Virginia 5, Georgia Tech 6

After falling behind 6-0 in the first four innings, Virginia made a near comeback and scored three runs in the eighth and two in the ninth to cut the deficit to one run. Despite the late-game effort, initiated by a two-RBI double down the right field line by senior right fielder Alex Tappen, the Cavaliers fell 6-5 in the series opener.

Senior right-hander Griff McGarry started on the hill and recorded the loss for Virginia, throwing two innings and allowing four walks, five hits and four runs early in the matchup. Five of Georgia Tech’s six runs came with two outs, but after four innings of struggling on defense, senior Kyle Whitten came in for relief and managed to get the game in check, giving up just two hits through three innings. 

Junior starter Brant Hurter pitched seven scoreless innings, recording eight strikeouts on the day and allowing six hits and zero walks to earn his third win.

With one out and the bases loaded in the top of the eighth, Tappen set a Cavalier rally in motion with a pinch-hit double down the right field line to score freshman designated hitter Kyle Teel and senior left fielder Brendan Rivoli. Trailing by four, sophomore second baseman Max Cotier produced an RBI groundout to bring in senior first baseman Devin Ortiz and cut Georgia Tech’s lead to 6-3. Freshman left-hander Jake Berry held the margin through the eighth as Virginia concluded the inning with a double play. 

Carrying the scoring momentum into the ninth, sophomore center fielder Chris Newell and junior third baseman Zack Gelof led the inning with a pair of singles. Newell crossed home off a throwing error, and Rivoli followed up with a groundout to the right side to score Gelof, bringing the Cavaliers within one. Virginia’s effort came up short, however, as sophomore closer Luke Bartnicki struck out the final batter, leaving the tying run on third and securing the win. 

Game 2 — Virginia 8, Georgia Tech 2

The Cavaliers evened the series Friday with an 8-2 win over Georgia Tech. Junior shortstop Nic Kent guided the team to victory with a fourth-inning grand slam to clear the bags and give Virginia an early 5-2 lead, which it held through the rest of the matchup.

Senior starter Andrew Abbott threw seven innings for the Cavaliers, allowing two runs with nine strikeouts. Abbott retired 10-straight Yellow Jackets after giving up the pair of runs, picking up his third win of the season. The senior is now 14th all-time in strikeouts with 224 in his career at Virginia. 

The Cavaliers got on the board first after both teams were scoreless through three innings. Graduate student catcher Logan Michaels brought in the first run with a sacrifice bunt to the right side. In his second home run of the season, Kent followed up with a bases-clearing shot over the left field wall to extend the Virginia lead to 5-0. The junior finished the day 2-for-4 at the plate with four RBI. 

Georgia Tech responded in the bottom of the inning, scoring its only two runs of the game off of Abbott. Senior Blake Bales came in for relief in the eighth, rounding out the win through two scoreless innings, allowing just two baserunners and extending his no-runs-allowed innings to 19.1 on the season. Virginia finished the game with a 9-7 edge in hits, including a pair from Tappen and three from Cotier. 

Leading 5-2, the Cavaliers added insurance in the fifth and seventh innings. Michaels produced another sacrifice at-bat with a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning to bring in another run, and Ortiz rounded out the scoring by stealing home on a wild pitch, extending his scoring streak to six games. 

Game 3 — Virginia 11, Georgia Tech 4

Virginia rounded out the weekend with an 11-4 win Saturday afternoon to clinch the series over the Yellow Jackets. The Cavaliers caught fire in the ninth inning and scored six runs to secure the victory. Virginia recorded a season-high 13 hits by seven different players, and six Cavaliers had multi-hit performances.

While Virginia got on the board early in the second inning, extending the lead to two runs in the sixth, Georgia Tech quickly cut the deficit in half. The Yellow Jackets added one run in each of the following innings, but the Cavalier offense put the game out of reach with two runs in the eighth and an explosive final round of at-bats in the ninth that led to the wide-margin win. 

Gelof helped lead Virginia on the offensive end, going 2-for-6 on the day with three RBI and a home run over the left field wall. With two hits of his own, Cotier brought in the second run for the Cavaliers with a sacrifice fly in the seventh and recorded another RBI in the eighth. Likewise, Ortiz had another impressive day at the plate with two hits including a two-run homer during the ninth inning rally. 

Junior right-hander Mike Vasil threw 6.2 innings for Virginia and allowed two runs on seven hits while retiring six Yellow Jackets on strikeouts to record his fourth win of the season. Junior left-hander Brandon Neeck came in for relief in the seventh as the Cavaliers led 3-2, forcing a fly out and leaving the tying run on second base. Closing out the game, graduate right-hander Stephen Schoch allowed one unearned run and recorded the save to close out the series. 

Virginia returns to action at Disharoon Park Tuesday in an afternoon matchup against William and Mary. Game time is set to begin at 4 p.m. and will be broadcast on the ACC Network.