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Cavaliers rally to beat Towson

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Posted: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 9:25 pm

The ‘Hoo Zone in left field still showed remains. The bleachers in right also had rows of snow visible to the 2,567 who braved the elements and were at Davenport Field for Wednesday’s baseball game between No. 3 Virginia and Towson.

Yes, the Cavaliers got nine innings in, avoiding a second complete mid-week wipeout in the last month because of weather.

With the opportunity, UVa defeated Towson, 5-3. 

“It was a tremendous effort by our entire group to even be on that field today,” said Wahoo coach Brian O’Connor. “We spent a lot of time on that field the last couple of days shoveling snow and getting the field ready to play. I’m glad that we did — and came out and played a good baseball game.”

A snow storm whipped into town Sunday evening, causing the cancellation of Virginia’s Tuesday home game with Rutgers.

A 6:41 press release was issued Tuesday evening, indicating the Towson matchup remained to go as scheduled.

Credit a cast of several with many hours of labor. They turned a winter wonderland into a more-than-playable diamond for Wednesday’s 4:15 p.m. first pitch.

“The coaches were out there pretty much all day today and yesterday, [and] the grounds crew,” O’Connor said. “Our players were out there for a limited time yesterday. But we’re fortunate that it warmed up and we were able to get out there.”

O’Connor’s already had to tinker with the schedule stemming from postponements of early March dates with Old Dominion and George Washington.

Such measures weren’t about to take place again. Especially with an ACC test at No. 25 Miami going on this weekend.

O’Connor said he tried to find alternate venues to host the Rutgers contest, but to no avail.

Instead, the Cavs rallied to host the Tigers.

With a clean surface to play on, Virginia took advantage with more stellar pitching and one big inning of hitting.

David Rosenberger, making the first start of his career, fumbled a weakly hit ground ball off the bat of Towson leadoff man Hunter Bennett, allowing Bennett to reach in the first inning.

That sparked a tough opening frame for the lefty, highlighted by a two-out, two-run homer by Kurt Wertz. UVa trailed, 3-0, after 1.

But Rosenberger, a bullpen staple this season, eventually settled down. After the Wertz shot, the sophomore allowed just two more hits. He struck out one and walked none.

“At the start, the mound was a little bit muddy and I slipped a little bit on that first play,” Rosenberger said. “And then I hung that one pitch for the home run. But other than that, I was glad about how I pitched.”

Virginia (16-3) hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of its last 18 games. Wednesday’s relief unit of Whit Mayberry (three innings), Austin Young (one) and Nick Howard (one) kept that streak alive against the Tigers (9-7).

The trio allowed just one hit, a leadoff single by Brandon Gonnella in the ninth off Howard.

“All the guys that threw out of the pen did a terrific job,” O’Connor said, “and kept the game in check and gave us a chance.”

The UVa offense offered support in the third inning, scoring four runs on four hits.

“I think we had plate discipline that inning,” said junior center fielder Mike Papi, who went 2 for 3 and had an RBI infield single in the third. “They had a lot of walks. Their pitcher started to get a little wild and I think our discipline got us back in the game, got a couple runners and then we got a couple key hits in a couple key situations.”

Howard joined Papi as Wednesday’s lone multi-hit performers. Howard had a two-run single in the third.

It was all enough to warm the feelings for a Virginia team that’s been drenched in cold weather for the better part of this season.

“It’s good to get some reps in before we go down to Miami,” Papi said. “It feels like it’s been two weeks since we’ve played our last game. So it’s good for all of us to get some reps and get used to playing again.”

The Cavaliers and Hurricanes begin their three-game series at 7 p.m., Saturday, in Alex Rodriguez Park. 

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