May 23, 2013
DURHAM, N.C. – Zane Evans had three hits and Kyle Wren tripled and scored, but No. 5 Virginia hit three home runs en route to an 8-2 victory over the Yellow Jackets Thursday at the ACC Baseball Championship in Durham, N.C. Each team is now 1-1 in pool play.
The seventh-seeded Jackets (34-24), who are the reigning ACC Champions and beat No. 7 Florida State Wednesday, lost for the first time in ACC postseason play since 2011. Third-seeded Virginia bounced back from yesterday’s loss to sixth-seeded Virginia Tech to remain alive in Pool B and improved to 46-10.
Georgia Tech must beat Virginia Tech Friday at 3 p.m. to remain alive. The Jackets advance to Sunday’s ACC title game with a win over the Hokies combined with a Florida State win over Virginia on Saturday.
Wren tripled to the right-field gap on the game’s second pitch and the Jackets were off and running quickly on Virginia lefty Scott Silverstein. Brandon Thomas followed in the next at bat by hammering an RBI double down the left-field line, but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.
That would be a key play as Evans smashed a single off the Blue Monster in the next at bat, and Virginia rolled a 4-6-3 double play to minimize the damage to just a run on three hits.
“I felt like we got off to a good start, had two hits in the first inning,” said head coach Danny Hall. “Brandon (Thomas) getting thrown out at second was a very pivotal play because Zane (Evans) ended up hitting one off the wall. It turned what could have been a big first inning against a guy that has pitched really well against us twice this year; he pitched great against us in Atlanta and then after the first inning today really settled in and pitched well.”
Silverstein was boosted by two more double plays turned by the Cavaliers. A 3-6-1 twin killing erased Thomas Smith’s lead-off single in the fifth and Daniel Palka lined into a double play at first base after Evans led off the sixth with a single.
“I thought the two double plays we hit into were two critical moments,” said Hall. “We had leadoff hitters on in two consecutive innings and banged into double plays. We then gave up some home runs and there’s no defense when you give home runs up. Tip your cap to (Scott) Silverstein and credit their hitters for hitting mistakes and making us pay for them.”
Evans finished the day 3-for-4, extended his hitting streak to seven games and scored in the fourth, cutting Virginia’s lead to 4-2. The junior led off with a single up the middle, moved to second on Palka’s walk, to third on Sam Dove’s sacrifice bunt and scored on A.J. Murray’s sac fly to center. Wren was 2-for-4 and Smith had two hits, including a double that caromed off the top of the Blue Monster in left.
Tech pounded out 10 hits on Silverstein, who worked 8.2 innings and yielded just two runs to improve to 9-1. Josh Sborz got the game’s final out after Mott Hyde doubled down the right-field line to end Silverstein’s complete-game bid.
Dusty Isaacs was in command of the Cavaliers early, setting down six of the first seven he faced with four strikeouts. But a pair of doubles and an error allowed Virginia to score twice in the third and take a lead they would not relinquish.
Consecutive solo homers from Nick Howard and Kenny Towns in the fourth made it 4-1. Tech got a run back in the bottom of the fourth, but Brandon Downs solo homer to left kick-started a three-run, four-hit inning for the Cavaliers in the sixth that put the game on ice.
Pool B play continues Thursday night at 7 p.m. when Florida State and Virginia Tech collide.
Junior LF Kyle Wren led off the game with his sixth triple this season and the 19th of his career. With 19, he has tied Mark Fisher (1995-97) for second on Tech’s career list. Jay Payton (1992-94) holds the Tech record with 22.
Georgia Tech slipped to 22-6 when scoring first and to 15-4 when scoring in the first inning.
The 3-for-4 day from Zane Evans moved his average to .371 this season, and he now leads the team in that category.
Evans extended his hitting streak to seven games. He’s been held hitless just once over the last 20 games of the season.
Tech is now 72-54 all-time in ACC Tournament play and 7-4 in ACC postseason play versus Virginia.