The No. top-ranked Virginia baseball team opened ACC play Saturday at Duke, splitting a doubleheader with the Blue Devils. The Cavaliers took the first game, winning 3-2, but Duke responded with a 3-2 win in the later game.
In game two, UVa gave up just one infield single, but the Cavaliers pitchers walked nine batters in the loss. UVa starting pitcher Josh Sborz walked eight batters in 3 2/3 innings. Sborz did not allow a hit and struck out three in taking the loss. Duke did not record its first hit until the eighth inning, a one-out infield single from Jordan Betts.
Virginia managed just six hits of its own, with Daniel Pinero recording a pair of hits. Down 1-0, the 'Hoos scored twice in the third inning. John La Prise and Pinero hit back-to-back singles to start the inning and were sacrificed over by Mike Papi. Branden Cogswell hit a slow grounder to second base to tie the game, and shortstop Kenny Koplove made an errant throw on a Derek Fisher ground ball, with UVa taking a 2-1 lead.
Duke grabbed the lead back as Sborz and reliever David Rosenberger each battled control issues. After getting two quick outs, Sborz then walked four straight batters, with a bases on balls to Andy Perez forcing in a run. Rosenberger entered the game and issued a free pass to Aaron Cohn to bring home another run.
Connor Jones kept the game in reach with 2 2/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
Virginia threatened in the ninth inning, loading the bases with one out, to no avail. Joe McCarthy led off with a single to right-center, spelling the end of the night for Istler. Huber struck out Matt Thaiss, but McCarthy stole second and Robbie Coman singled to center to put runners at the corners. Pinch runner Thomas Woodruff stole second base and La Prise walked on five pitches to load the bases. Huber rebounded to get Pinero to pop out to short right field and then struck out Papi looking on a 3-2 pitch to seal the win.
In the first game of the day, Kirby allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out a career-high nine batters in six innings. After two shutout innings from Whit Mayberry, Nick Howard pitched through problems in the ninth inning to record his third save.
Seven Cavaliers recorded a hit in the game. Papi hit a seventh-inning solo home run which proved to be the difference. All three Cavaliers runs came after two were out.
Virginia used a two-out rally in the second inning to post the game’s first run. Thaiss was hit by a pitch, then moved to second on a Nate Irving single to right. Kenny Towns then singled to right to bring Thaiss around for the run.
UVa struck again with two outs in the sixth inning. Cogswell led off with a double to left and still was standing at second with two out when pinch hitter Nick Howard lined a single to left. Cogswell slid around the tag to beat a great throw and push the lead to 2-0.
The Cavaliers added a run in the seventh inning when Papi cranked a two-out solo home run to right field, his third blast of the year.
In the ninth, Duke put together a two-out rally as Mike Rosenfeld singled up the middle and Chris Marconcini followed with a two-run homer to right-center. Howard fell behind 3-1 against Jordan Betts but bounced back to blow back-to-back pitches past Betts to record the strikeout and end the game.
The 'Hoos are now 10-3 this season and 1-1 in the ACC, while Duke moves to 8-6 overall and 1-1 in the conference. The two teams will meet in the series finale at 1 p.m. Sunday.