For the third time in as many games, the Virginia baseball team made big plays in the final innings to earn the win Monday night over Wake Forest. Joe McCarthy homered twice as part of a four-hit day and Nick Howard did not allow an earned run over 7 1/3 innings as the 'Hoos recorded a 9-7 win.
McCarthy went 4-for-6 and drove in four runs while notching his first multi-home run game. Branden Cogswell, Derek Fisher and Mike Papi each had two hits for the Cavaliers, who finished with 14 knocks.
Howard had one of the best starts of his young career, going a career-best 7 1/3 innings and allowing three unearned runs, three hits and two walks while striking out six. He retired 13 straight batters from the first through fifth innings and owned a no-hitter through 5 1/3 innings.
Kyle Crockett recorded the final two outs of the ninth inning to claim his seventh save, including his fifth straight in UVa’s last five games. He becomes the first pitcher in program history to record five saves in five consecutive contests.
With UVa up 1-0 in the fifth, McCarthy launched a solo home run the opposite way to left-center field for a two-run lead.
After failing to register a hit against Howard in the first five innings, Wake Forest tied the game with three runs in the sixth while taking advantage of sloppy defense. Andrew Williams drew a leadoff walk and one out later Evan Stephens singled to center. Conor Keniry hit a grounder deep in the hole between first and second that Reed Gragnani fielded, but his throw to a covering Howard was errant, allowing Williams to score and the runners to advance to second and third. Pat Blair grounded out to score a run, and Morgan tripled off the glove of a diving Brandon Downes in left-center to tie the game.
Virginia used clutch hitting in the eighth inning to score three times and grab the lead, 6-3. Irving hit a leadoff single and advanced on a Cogswell sacrifice. After King struck out swinging, McCarthy legged out an infield single. Downes then doubled to left field on a 3-2 pitch. Irving scored on the play and, when left fielder Kevin Jordan bobbled the ball, McCarthy also came home. Papi then beat out an infield single and Downes hustled around from second base to score.
The Cavaliers doubled their lead in the ninth inning on a three-run home run to right-center from McCarthy. He now has three home runs on the year.
Wake Forest scored four times in the bottom of the ninth and brought the tying run to the plate before Crockett secured the final two outs, including a strike-out to end the game.
The Cavaliers improve to 30-3 overall and 12-3 in the ACC with the three-game series sweep. Virginia has now won 11 straight games against Wake Forest since 2008.
The Wahoos return home at 6 p.m. Wednesday to face Radford. The Cavaliers hit the road again next weekend for a three-game series in Atlanta against No. 17 Georgia Tech.
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