CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The No. 7 Virginia baseball team scored in six different innings in a methodical 10-4 defeat of No. 2 North Carolina Thursday evening in front of 3,095 fans at Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill. Virginia (44-8, 21-7 ACC) won its sixth straight game while handing UNC (46-7, 20-6) just its fourth home loss in 37 games this year.
Virginia continued its torrid stretch at the plate, racking up 10 runs and 17 hits, both the most allowed by a North Carolina opponent this season. UVa now has scored 58 runs and posted 71 hits over its last four games while posting four consecutive double-figure scoring outputs for the first time since racking up five straight from April 28-May 4, 2010.
UVa’s Mike Papi (So., Tunkhannock, Pa.) went 3-for-6 and now is 12-for-19 in his last four contests. Nate Irving (So., Yonkers, N.Y.) also picked up three hits. Every Virginia position starter had at least one hit, while six recorded at least two.
Virginia starting pitcher Brandon Waddell (Fr., Houston, Texas) worked a career-high seven innings, allowing four earned runs, eight hits and three walks while striking out a pair as he improved to 5-1 on the year. After allowing four runs over the first three innings, Waddell limited the Tar Heels to three hits over his final four innings. UVa is now 12-1 in series openers this year.
Kyle Crockett (Jr., Poquoson, Va.) pitched two scoreless innings to wrap up the win for Virginia.
UNC starter Kent Emanuel (9-3) worked five innings, giving up six runs (four earned), 10 hits and two walks while striking out six.
The teams see-sawed through the first five innings, with each team taking two-run leads. Virginia took an early 2-0 lead with a pair of runs in the second inning. Reed Gragnani (Sr., Richmond, Va.) drew a one-out walk and moved to second on a Kenny Towns (So., Burke, Va.) infield single. Irving then singled to left-center to bring Gragnani home and move Towns to third. Papi followed with a slow grounder to first base to plate Towns for UVa’s second run.
UNC countered with two runs of its own in the second. Skye Bolt reached on a single to shortstop to start the inning, and Cody Stubbs walked. Michael Russell advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt. Brian Holberton singled to center to bring in Bolt, and Mike Zolk hit a sacrifice fly to knock in Stubbs and tie the game.
UNC took the lead in the third inning. The first three Tar Heels singled to combine for the first run, as Chaz Frank, Landon Lassiter and Colin Moran all singled. Bolt grounded into a fielder’s choice to score Lassiter and push the UNC lead to 4-2.
The Cavaliers came right back to tie it up in the fourth. Nick Howard (So., Olney, Md.) led off with a single, and moved to third on a single by Gragnani off the glove of a diving Moran at third base, with Gragnani moving to second on the throw to third. Towns lifted a sacrifice fly to center on the ensuing pitch. One out later Papi cranked a single to right to bring Gragnani home from second.
Virginia moved ahead with a pair of unearned runs in the fifth. Joe McCarthy (Fr., Scranton, Pa.) reached to start the inning on a Moran fielding error. Downes followed with a double to center, with McCarthy advancing to third. Fisher then grounded deep in the hole at shortstop for a single, scoring McCarthy. With two outs Gragnani lined a single back up the middle to bring Downes home for a 6-4 lead.
UVa tacked on a sixth-inning run while getting another key two-out hit. With one out against reliever Trevor Kelley, King lined a single to left. He advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a two-out single to left-center by Downes.
The Tar Heels loaded the bases with one out in the sixth inning, but Waddell got pinch hitter Parks Jordan to fly out to shallow center and Frank to also fly out to center to end the inning.
Virginia upped its lead to 9-4 against Kelley in the eighth inning. Irving led off with a single and moved to third on a hit-and-run single to right by Papi. A wild pitch scored Irving. King walked and McCarthy was hit by a pitch to load the bases. One out later Fisher launched a long fly ball to right field for a sacrifice fly, scoring Papi.
The Cavaliers scored a final run in the ninth inning when McCarthy hit an infield single off the glove of reliever Mason McCullough with the bases loaded to bring in Gragnani.
Game 2 of the series is set for 7 p.m. Friday, while the finale will be played at 2 p.m. Saturday. ESPN3 will have the live webcast of both games, while WINA 1070-AM will have the local radio coverage.