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Cavaliers’ Sborz perfect through six innings; Pinero and Smith go deep
DURHAM, N.C. (theACC.com) – As it turned out, seventh-seeded Virginia didn’t need nine innings to reach the pool play portion of the 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship.
Starting pitcher Josh Sborz flirted with perfection, and the Cavaliers provided him with more than ample offensive backing as they blanked 10th-seeded Georgia Tech, 11-0, in Tuesday’s opening play-in game at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. The game ended after 6 ½ innings due to the tournament’s 10-run rule.
Virginia (34-19) moved into Pool B round-robin play and will face second-seeded Miami (42-13) on Wednesday at 3 p.m. Georgia Tech (32-23) was eliminated from the Championship.
A DBAP crowd of 2,614 watched Sborz – a second-team All-ACC closer who has stepped up to contribute as a starter for Virginia late in the season – allow just one hit and two walks while striking out eight. Daniel Pinero homered and drove in four runs, while Matt Thaiss, Kenny Towns and Pavin Smith had two RBIs apiece. Smith also went deep for the Cavaliers.
Sborz (3-2) retired all 18 Yellow Jacket batters he faced through the first six innings, and with 10-run rule in effect was making a serious bid at the fourth perfect game in league history.
Tech pinch-hitter Ryan Peurifoy made sure that didn’t happen when he opened the seventh inning with a double off the wall in left-center, and Sborz followed with by issuing walks to Keenan Innis and Brandon Gold to load the bases with two outs. But Virginia’s junior right-hander retired Thomas Smith on a long fly ball to right field to end the game.
The Cavaliers, who closed the regular season on a five-game winning streak, grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a one-out single by Dick Howser Trophy semifinalist Matt Thaiss.
Virginia made it 5-0 with four runs in the bottom of the third, highlighted by Kenny Towns’ two-run single and Smith’s two-run homer. Smith, a freshman, powered an 0-2 pitch from Tech starter Jonathan King (4-5) into the right field seats for his sixth home run of the year.
A two-run single by Pinero and Thaiss’ RBI double keyed a three-run fourth that pushed the Cavaliers in front by an 8-0 count. The margin reached 11-0 in the bottom of the fifth-inning, capped by Pinero’s two-run shot that just missed the famed “Hit Bull Win Steak” sign atop the left-field wall at DBAP.
The Yellow Jackets’ King allowed eight hits in three-plus innings while striking out one batter and walking two. All seven runs he allowed were earned. Relievers Cole Pitts and Drew Stanton combined to allow five hits and the other four Virginia runs.
The Cavaliers took two of three from Miami when the teams met at Charlottesville on April 17-19, winning the first two games of the series by 5-4 and 5-2 scores. The Hurricanes posted an 8-6 win in the season finale.