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Around the Bases
From safe to sweating,
Virginia hangs on at East Carolina
By Michael Perry
(photos by Ian Rogol/TheSabre.com)
N.C. — Season-opening series, with a post-season feel.
In an unbelievable four-hour contest that only
college baseball could offer, the University of Virginia escaped
Greenville with the series. The Cavs rode out a 14-11 win, only
secured by a groundout to shortstop by East Carolina’s John
Wooten in the bottom of the ninth.
It appeared certain that the No. 3 Cavaliers
would go home with their 13-4 lead as they headed into the
bottom of the eighth, but the No. 17 Pirates insisted on scoring
seven runs in the inning to give Virginia a scare it is sure to
“Poise is so important in college baseball,
especially when you play on the road because things are going to
happen.” Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor said. “You have to
have poise and composure, and fortunately we have a veteran
group and they didn’t let it get too far out of hand.”
ECU’s Kyle Roller opened the frame with a
stand-up double. Devin Harris and pinch-hitter Chris Gosik would
follow as they batted in a run apiece, but Wooten’s two-out,
two-run blast to far right field seemed to hint more and more
that the impossible could be possible.
Two walks followed Wooten’s second opposite field
dinger of the weekend, setting up Dustin Harrington’s screamer
down the third base line that plated two more. The Pirates
batted around with Roller bringing home Harrington, shrinking
the deficit to three.
The Cavs cycled through two pitchers in the
eighth alone before bringing in closer Kevin Arico, who tore
into the Pirates for four outs to rid Virginia of the looming
comeback. Arico forced Harris (1 for 4) into a groundout at
second base, stifling the rally.
“He did a tremendous job (last year) and pitched
us to Omaha.” O’Connor said of Arico. “I knew when the game got
tight we’d definitely have to go with him, and he came in and
did a nice job.”
In the top of the ninth, the Cavs’ Chris Taylor
produced a lone run off an RBI triple that bounced off the wall
in the right-center gap to bring the score to its final 14-11
Early on, Virginia jumped out front with a
six-run second, the first inning of the series to produce more
than two runs. John Hicks led off with a double and Keith Werman
brought him home with a single.
Second baseman Werman took advantage of his first
start of the season, going 3 for 4 at the dish and providing a
respectable defensive performance.
“He is a tough little player,” O’Connor said. “He
just really knows how to play and it just creates great options
was then plated by Phil Gosselin who cranked a 1-2 pitch over
left-center at Clark LeClair, known as the Jungle.
Virginia’s Steven Proscia (left) later scored
another runner to end the short-lived first start of ECU
right-hander Brad Mincey.
Mincey, a staple among the
Pirates’ pitching staff last season, was their only 10-win
starter a year ago.
When asked about Mincey’s performance ECU head
coach Billy Godwin responded positively.
“He wasn’t on today and that’s unfortunate,”
Godwin said. “He has done some great things for us at a high
level and he’ll bounce back.”
the pitching department, both teams exhausted all resources,
with the Pirates using seven arms and the Cavs working six of
their own. Neal Davis (1-0) (right) allowed one hit and no runs
in 2.1 innings of relief to earn the win.
Though unusual, the thrilling finish proved to be
nothing less than the appropriate tight-wire conclusion to a
ECU now looks forward to its first midweek
matchup as it takes on Old Dominion at home on Tuesday, while
Virginia will host George Washington on Wednesday for its home