PITTSBURGH — Lined up to the right side of the rubber, Nathan Kirby, left sleeve rolled up underneath his orange jersey, looked as if he was about to take on the Pittsburgh lineup for the first time Friday evening.
But the bottom of the eighth inning was just a pitch away from beginning. The time was past 10:30 p.m.
Huddled around first base, Virginia’s defense quietly shared some words before breaking for their positions.
No Cavalier stopped by the mound for a chat.
When history’s unfolding, you don’t dare mess with it.
An inning later, the moment arrived.
Shortstop Daniel Pinero lunged to his left, gobbled up Dylan Wolsonovich’s outfield-seeking poke and made an accurate toss to Kenny Towns at first base.
Cue the dugout flood.
Kirby threw UVa’s first no-hitter since 2011 as the No. 1 Wahoos blanked the Panthers, 4-0, before 402 spectators at Charles L. Cost Field.
“It’s kind of cliché,” Kirby said, “but it’s kind of a blur.”
Kirby struck out 18 batters, finishing just a K shy of an ACC and program record. The sophomore left-hander issued just a single walk.
He struck out a ridiculous 10 consecutive batters from the second inning to the beginning of the fifth.
Combining his signature 92-95 mph fastball with a filthy slider and change-up, Kirby gave the Panthers a proper introduction to the best the ACC has to offer on the mound.
Kirby, second only to teammate Connor Jones for best ERA in the league, set a new Cost Field record for strikeouts.
The Panthers, longtime members of the Big East, looked foolish against UVa’s lean 6-foot-2, 185-pounder.
“The poise that he showed tonight,” said UVa coach Brian O’Connor, “the calmness and the presence that he showed was truly impressive. I’m just really proud of him. It’s a great accomplishment for him and and our team.”
Kirby received support from Virginia runs spread out across three innings. Branden Cogswell perfectly executed a drag bunt to score Nate Irving in the second inning. Brandon Downes doubled in Joe McCarthy in the third. Mike Papi’s misplayed bloop to right led to two runs in the sixth.
The Cavaliers improved to 26-4 and 11-2 in the ACC.