The second-ranked Virginia baseball team clipped No. 14 Clemson, 3-2, Friday evening in front of 4,221 spectators at Davenport Field. Virginia pitchers Nathan Kirby (So., Midlothian, Va.), Whit Mayberry (R-Sr., Alexandria, Va.) and Nick Howard (Jr., Olney, Md.) combined on a five-hitter as the Cavaliers (29-5, 13-3 ACC) held the ACC's top offense in check.
Coming off a no-hitter last Friday at Pitt, Kirby (7-1) worked six solid innings, giving up two earned runs, four hits and three walks while striking out six. Kirby recorded his ninth straight quality start of the year (six innings pitched and three runs or fewer allowed); he entered the game as one of five pitchers nationally to post eight consecutive quality starts this year.
Mayberry pitched two shutout innings before giving way to Howard, who fired a perfect ninth inning to claim his ACC-leading 10th save in as many attempts.
Nate Irving (Jr., Yonkers, N.Y.) hit the go-ahead double in the fourth inning for UVa, which also finished with five hits. In addition to his work on the mound, Howard scored two of the Cavaliers' runs, including the eventual game winner.
Matthew Crownover (6-3) took the defeat for Clemson (20-13, 9-6) after giving up three runs (two earned), five hits and two walks in seven strong innings. He struck out four.
Virginia scored the game's first two runs in the second inning. With one out Howard and Brandon Downes (Jr., South Plainfield, N.J.) hit back-to-back singles and Irving walked to load the bases. Kenny Towns (Jr., Burke, Va.) hit a sacrifice fly to right field, and catcher Chris Okey's throw to third was mishandled by Weston Wilson, allowing Downes to scamper home.
Clemson promptly countered with a pair of runs in the third inning. With one out Tyler Slaton singled. Jay Baum's potential inning-ending double-play ball was bobbled at third base and UVa picked up only the out at first. The Tigers then got back-to-back run-scoring singles from Tyler Krieger and Steven Duggar to tie the game.
The Cavaliers moved ahead in the fourth inning as Howard drew a walk and scored on a two-out double to left-center by Irving.
Clemson put runners on base in each inning from the fifth through the eighth but could not net the tying score.
The series continues Saturday with a 2:30 p.m. game, while the series finale is slated for 1 p.m. Sunday.
Free parking is available in the University Hall, John Paul Jones Arena, and McCue Center lots and the Emmet/Ivy Garage for the Saturday game. Fans should be aware of the Monster Trucks event at John Paul Jones Arena that begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.