May 23, 2003


CBI Live
Koshansky, Cavaliers outlive Demon Deacons
Virginia rallies in ninth, wins on homer in 10th

By Sean Ryan Co-Founder

SALEM, Va. - The collective heart rate of those at Memorial Stadium watching Virginia and Wake Forest in an ACC Tournament elimination game Friday has returned to normal.

But don't blame Joe Koshansky for still having a little spring in his step Saturday.

That's because Koshansky and his fellow Cavaliers lived to play another day in the tournament - and possibly more important, helped their cause for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Koshansky, a left-handed pitcher/first-baseman, laced a screeching liner over the wall in right field to lead off the bottom of the 10th inning to lead Virginia to a heart-stopping 12-11 win over the Demon Deacons. The win not only advanced U.Va. (29-24) to a meeting with Florida State Saturday, it also kept the Cavaliers breathing in terms of an NCAA bid.

"I want to say I wasn't," Koshansky said when asked if he was thinking homer when he stepped to then plate. "But I was trying to hit a home run."

Added Cavaliers coach Dennis Womack of the same question: "Oh, I was. I can tell you I wanted the game to be over. Absolutely. My stomach hurt so bad, I tell you what."

Koshansky, who went 3 for 5 with two RBI and five runs, opened his at-bat by blasting a Kirby Wedekind fastball deep and foul way out of the stadium. He then turned on a 2-2 change, narrowly lining it out of the park and sending the Cavaliers into bedlam.

"I knew I hit it pretty well," said Koshansky, whose big day came one day after his roughest start of the season against North Carolina State in the first round. "I thought it was a line drive. I wasn't sure it was going to get out."

The laser put an end to a game that started with a bang - Wake led 5-3 at the end of the first - and with an inning that was not for the faint of heart.

After the Cavaliers took a 9-7 lead in the seventh on a Scott Headd sacrifice fly and a Kyle Werman RBI single, the Demon Deacons (29-24) appeared to be turning a season of frustration into a magical day.

Steve LeFaivre (3 for 5, homer, two doubles, three RBI) doubled to start the ninth inning, and Ben Ingold and Brad Scioletti surrounded a failed sacrifice bunt attempt with a walk and a single, respectively. After Canon Hickman struck out Adam Bourassa for the second out, Ryan Hubbard was down to his final strike when he turned on an inside fastball and got a good look at it clearing the fence for a grand slam and an 11-7 lead. It was the first grand slam in ACC tourney play since 1995 and the 15th overall.

"It felt pretty good, I've dreamt about that situation forever, I guess," said Hubbard, who's played the whole season with a torn rotator cuff.. "It worked out, everything [according] to plan, except we didn't get the win."

That's because the Cavaliers used some magic of their own.

Paul Gillespie led off the bottom of the ninth with a double, and Headd singled to third. After a sac bunt by Werman, Matt Street grounded out to closer Adam Hanson for the second out. Matt Dunn, like Hubbard the No. 2 hitter, was down in the count 0-2 before lacing a single up the middle to score two and tie the game.

"They'd been pitching me inside the whole game," said Dunn, who went 2 for 5 with two runs. "I figured he was going to come back inside, so I was looking inside. But then he left it over the plate."

"We have been a resilient team the whole year," Womack said. "It doesn't always say we always win, but what I think you can count on is that we will play to the last out…it did look bleak, I have to admit that."

The Demon Deacons, who battled injuries all season, have dropped seven of their past eight games and 10 of 16. Any postseason dreams appear to be wishful thinking.

"Basically, the whole season's just been a roller-coaster ride with a lot more emphasis on the going-down part," said Wake's Ryan Johnson, who scored twice. "Just as you think it's all starting to come together, boom, the other team stayed with us."

And, the Cavaliers stayed in the hunt for the postseason.

"I think we definitely need some wins," Womack said. "I think at the end there, we're just saying, hey, let's win this game, just win period."