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May 23, 2013
DURHAM, N.C. - Virginia, stunned by a first-game loss to Virginia Tech, bounced back Thursday to hammer Georgia Tech 8-2 in the morning game of the ACC Baseball Championship at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
The game left both teams at 1-1 in tournament action and still alive in the championship hunt. Georgia Tech (34-24) will complete its round-robin play against Virginia Tech Friday at 3 p.m. Virginia (46-10) will finish round-robin play Saturday at 11 a.m. against Florida State.
The Cavaliers, coming off a 10-1 loss to the rival Hokies, got off to a slow start against the Yellow Jackets, but senior starter Scott Silverstein (W, 9-1) showed his poise in minimizing the early damage, giving the potent Virginia offense time to wake up.
"After yesterday's very difficult loss, for our guys to respond like they did - led by Scott Silverstein - that's certainly a memorable outing," Virginia coach Brian O'Connor said. "For him - in his last ACC Tournament - to go out and pitch eight and two-thirds ... he was very, very efficient today."
Silverstein gave up 10 hits and some hard shots that ended up as outs. But he consistently pitched out of trouble with the help of some stellar defense.
"The difference between today and yesterday is that Scott gave up 10 hits, but he consistently made good clutch pitches," O'Connor said. "Yesterday, [Brandon] Waddell didn't make those pitches and Scott did."
Virginia, the top hitting team in the ACC, got its offense going with back-to-back two-run innings in the third and fourth innings.
Catcher Nate Irving got the deluge started with a leadoff double in the third. He moved up on a sacrifice and came home on a slow grounder by Mike Papi that was fumbled by shortstop Mott Hyde. He came home after a double by Reed Gragnani and a sacrifice fly by ACC rookie of the year Joe McCarthy.
An inning later, the Cavs unleashed their power as third baseman Nick Howard and first baseman Kenny Towns hammered back-to-back home runs off Georgia Tech starter Dusty Isaacs (L, 4-7). And in the sixth, Virginia added three more runs - keyed by a home run by center fielder Brandon Downes.
That was more than enough for Silverstein, who seemed to get stronger as the game went on.
Georgia Tech's only real threat came in the first inning. The Jackets jumped to the lead when leadoff hitter Kyle Wren lined a triple to right-centerfield. He scored on a single by No. 2 hitter Brandon Thomas, but the Yellow Jackets blew a chance to put together a big inning when Thomas was thrown out by left fielder Papi trying to stretch his hit into a double. Designated hitter Zane Evans bounced the next pitch off the leftfield wall, but was erased on a double-play, limiting the Jackets to a one-run lead.
"I think Brandon Thomas getting thrown out at second was a very pivotal play," Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall said."That turned [around] what could have been a big first inning against a guy who has pitched really well against us this year."