Brian O'Connor still remembers win No. 1 as Virginia skipper --- a 10-7 victory at North Carolina A&T on February 13th, 2004.
Over 10 years later, O'Connor now has win No. 500 as the top-ranked Cavaliers rallied late to beat Georgia Tech, 4-3, Friday night at Davenport Field in the first game of the 'Hoos final ACC home series.
Virginia (39-9, 19-6 ACC) trailed 3-2 in the seventh before Mike Papi's 2-run single put the Wahoos in front for good.
“That was a great college baseball game,” O’Connor said. “It was pretty well played by both teams and I’m really proud of our guys. In the fourth inning and the seventh inning we capitalized on two-out RBIs and when you’re playing good opponents like Georgia Tech, and to really be a championship ball club, that is really what you have to do – you get clutch hits with two outs and runners in scoring position. Three of our four runs came that way. Obviously Papi’s was a big one there.”
Virginia manufactured a run in its first trip to the plate as Papi hit a leadoff single and advanced to second on a Daniel Pinero groundout. After Derek Fisher walked, McCarthy lined a single to center, and Papi scored when center fielder Daniel Spingola bobbled the ball.
The Cavaliers added a run in the fourth inning. McCarthy doubled off the right-center field wall to start the inning. He scored with two outs on a Kenny Towns single to right-center.
Georgia Tech sent eight batters to the plate while benefiting from a key UVa error in scoring three times in the fifth inning to take a 3-2 lead before Papi's heroics in the seventh.
The Virginia bullpen worked 3 1/3 hitless innings and struck out seven to keep the game in reach. Austin Young earned the win and improved to 1-0 on the year after retiring four straight batters in the sixth and seventh innings. After Whit Mayberry struck out the side in the eighth, Nick Howard worked a scoreless ninth inning to earn his league-leading 16th save.
UVa starting pitcher Nathan Kirby fired 5 2/3 innings, giving up three runs (one earned), six hits and two walks while fanning four.
Papi was 2-for 4 with a pair of RBI out of the leadoff spot for Virginia, while Joe McCarthy (So., Scranton, Pa.) recorded three hits.
Game two of the series is set for 12 p.m. Saturday.