April 11, 2009
ATLANTA – Keith Werman’s two-out single plated John Hicks to cap a six-run ninth inning uprising as No. 11 Virginia (28-7, 9-6 ACC) rallied from a five-run deficit to stun eighth-ranked Georgia Tech (21-8, 10-5 ACC), 11-10, Saturday night at Russ Chandler Stadium.
Trailing 10-5 after eight innings, the first five Cavalier batters reached base safely in the top of the ninth against Tech reliever Mark Pope (4-1), and all came around to score. An RBI single by Dan Grovatt cut the deficit to four, before Steven Proscia’s two-run double made it a two-run game at 10-8. Following an RBI groundout by Tyler Cannon, John Hicks lifted a fly ball into the left-center field gap that was mishandled by Tech center fielder Jeff Rowland, allowing the tying run to score. Pope then struck out John Barr before Werman’s two-out single plated the go-ahead run.
Kevin Arico yielded a leadoff walk in the bottom of the ninth, but the rally was cut short as Matt Skole grounded into a double play and Chase Burnette struck out to end the game. Arico earned his third save of the season by pitching a scoreless ninth inning.
Shane Halley (3-0) earned the win in relief for Virginia despite allowing four runs over 1-1/3 innings of work. Pope allowed six runs, five earned, on four hits and two walks in the top of the ninth inning for the Jackets while being charged with the loss.
The defeat overshadowed another multi-home run performance by Luke Murton, who belted two homers for the fourth time in the last 10 games. The senior right fielder went 2-for-4 with two runs and four RBI.
“Luke has given us a big lift,” head coach Danny Hall said. “He’s been on a home run streak, but he’s also become a much better hitter. His two home runs were opposite field tonight, which shows that he’s grown up as a hitter. But he’s been on fire of late.”
A two-run home run off the bat of Dan Grovatt staked Virginia to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but Tech answered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame to even the score. Jeff Rowland reached on a leadoff single and stole second base before Derek Dietrich was issued a walk. The two runners moved up a base on a double steal before scoring on a two-run single by Tony Plagman.
Rowland led the Jackets with three hits on the night.
A base hit by Grovatt plated another run in the top of the third, but a solo home run by Murton tied the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the inning.
Virginia tacked a run on in the fifth on an RBI single by Danny Hultzen before a solo home run by Jarrett Parker made the score 5-3 in the top of the seventh inning.
The Jackets chased Virginia starter Andrew Carraway in the bottom of the seventh with a trio of base hits, including a run-scoring single by Jason Haniger to pull Tech to within one run. Murton then belted his second homer of the day – a three-run shot – to give Tech its first lead of the night at 7-5.
An RBI single by House and two-run double from Haniger gave the Jackets a 10-5 cushion in the bottom of the eighth, but it wasn’t enough to withstand the six-run uprising by the Cavaliers in the ninth.
“We have to put this loss out of our minds,” Hall said. “It looked like we had the game in control going into the bottom of the ninth, but we didn’t.
“You have to give Virginia credit, and now it’s going to be a battle tomorrow to see who can win the series. It’s critical for us to win, especially since we’re playing at home. We need to play well tomorrow.”
Haniger finished with three RBI in a 2-for-5 performance, while House also had two hits on the night.
Yellow Jacket starter Zach Von Tersch allowed four runs in five innings before turning the ball over to his bullpen. Patrick Long worked 1-1/3 innings, giving up one run on one hit while walking one before Zach Brewster, Thomas Nichols and Jake Davies combined to hold Virginia scoreless over the next 1-2/3 innings.
Brewster forced an inning-ending double play in the seventh inning and was the pitcher of record for the Jackets until the top of the ninth, and Davies got the Jackets out of a jam in the eighth inning when Scott Silverstein lined a ball to second baseman Jason Garofalo for the third out of the frame.
The Jackets and Cavaliers will square off at 1 p.m. Sunday in the third and final game of the series. The finale can be heard on AM 790 The Zone.