WILMINGTON, N.C. – The top-ranked Virginia baseball team rebounded from its season-opening loss to Kentucky with a 12-0 victory over VMI on Saturday afternoon in the Hughes Bros. Challenge.
Virginia starter Nathan Kirby (1-0) worked a career-high six innings, allowing four hits and a walk while striking out seven, also a career high. Freshman Alec Bettinger allowed a hit and two walks in 1 2/3 innings of relief in his first college outing, while Kevin Doherty pitched the final 1 1/3 innings to finish off the shutout for the Cavaliers (1-1).
Virginia had a solid day offensively as well, recording a dozen hits with five players registering two hits apiece. Brandon Downes drove in three runs, while Mike Papi scored three runs and reached base four times to lead the Wahoos' offense.
VMI (0-2) did not help its case, committing six errors. Seven of Virginia’s runs were unearned.
UVa jumped to a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Derek Fisher led off with a high fly ball which got caught in the wind and landed on the left-field warning track for a triple. Shortstop Ray Lopez’s relay throw to third sailed high, allowing Fisher to come around to score. Nick Howard then singled and later scored on a Robbie Coman safety squeeze.
UVa doubled its lead in the third with timely two-out hitting. With Papi at third, Fisher lined a 3-0 pitch to right for a run-scoring single. Howard then tripled off the base of the center-field wall to score Fisher.
The Cavaliers tacked on a run in the fourth inning and then blew the game open with five unearned runs in the fifth inning. UVa sent 11 batters to the plate in the fifth, getting RBI singles from Coman, Papi and Joe McCarthy followed by a two-run single from Downes.
Virginia added a pair of runs in the seventh inning to round out the scoring.
The Cavaliers conclude their weekend against the tournament’s host school, UNC Wilmington, at 2 p.m. today.