May 12, 2008

Around the Bases

CBI Live
Cavaliers beat weather, Tar Heels for six-inning win


By Phil Stanton Co-Founder


CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – North Carolina and Virginia had to feel like they were fighting the elements as well as each other.


The Cavaliers (14-13, 34-17) won the three-way battle with a 5-4 six-inning victory over the second-ranked Tar Heels (20-6, 42-9) Sunday afternoon at Davenport Field to salvage the finale of their three-game ACC series.


With severe weather nearing, the sixth inning had the feel of the ninth as North Carolina trailed 3-2. After taking a close 1-2 pitch, Kyle Seager doubled down the right field line to start the inning and moved to third on a groundout. After taking a close 2-2 pitch, pinch-hitter Ryan Graepel had a base hit to left to knot the score at 3-3. With two outs, Garrett Gore doubled to left to score Graepel and give the Tar Heels a 4-3 advantage.


The Cavaliers headed to the bottom of the sixth knowing that if the inning would not be completed, they would have a 3-2 victory. North Carolina wanted a quick bottom of the sixth for a 4-3 win. Cannon led off with a base hit. Lefty Brian Moran entered quickly to pitch for the Heels. Greg Miclat hit a ball deep in the hole at short for an infield single to advance Cannon to second. Patrick Wingfield moved the runners along with a sacrifice bunt and David Adams was intentionally walked to load the bases. Dan Grovatt struck out for the second out. Jeremy Farrell (pictured) fell behind 1-2 and took two close pitches that were called balls. On the 3-2 pitch, Farrell dumped a ball into shallow right, driving in two to give the Cavs a 5-4 lead.


“I wanted to put a good swing on the ball,” said Farrell, a former CBI journalist. “With guys on base, I’m looking to drive them in. I didn’t do so the past two nights, but was able to do so there.”


Moran shared his displeasure with home plate umpire Frank Sylvester and was ejected. Catcher Tim Federowicz moved to the mound and got Phil Gosselin to ground out to end the inning. The tarp was pulled, followed by lightning and heavy rain. The game was called after more than an hour delay.


“It’s a nice win,” said Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor. “North Carolina is one of the best teams in the country. You don’t enjoy winning a game like this. I would be very upset if I was North Carolina, to not be able to play a complete ballgame. We’ve lost games like this before that have been rained shortened. It’s part of the game, but it’s very, very frustrating when it happens. I would just as soon play nine innings and win the game out on the field, but you can’t do anything about the weather.”


UNC got on the board in the third as Dustin Ackley ripped a one-out double into the left field corner and scored as Kyle Shelton lined the next pitch into left center to make it 1-0.


Virginia broke through in the bottom of the fourth. Gosselin reached on an infield single but was erased on a steal attempt. Franco Valdes drew a walk, John Barr singled and Tyler Cannon walked to load the bases. Miclat hit a grounder to second. Seager tried a backhand flip to second base that eluded Gore, allowing a pair to score. Wingfield’s bunt single plated Cannon to make it 3-1.


Ackley walked and scored on a sacrifice fly in the top of the fifth to pull UNC to within one at 3-2.


Virginia notched its first win against a ranked team after dropping nine, including three to Miami and Florida State, two to North Carolina and one to Coastal Carolina.


“I felt it would have been really big for our team to win the series,” O’Connor said, “but to win one game is big for us. We haven’t beaten a team of the caliber of North Carolina this whole year and it was important for us to find a way to win a ballgame and we did. You would have liked to have won it in a complete game fashion.”


The players knew it was an important win as well.


“You don’t want to get swept,” Farrell said, “and you especially don’t want to get swept at home. They’re one of the top teams in the nation and it’s definitely a good win for us.”