Twelve wins in 13 tries, perfect weather and the biggest crowd of the season at Davenport Field.
Saturday provided the setup for another series win for the No. 2 Virginia baseball team after a 3-2 victory over Clemson on Friday night. Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, things did not go according to plan as the No. 14 Tigers knocked off Virginia 7-1 in front of a season-high 4,886 fans.
Virginia (29-6, 13-4 ACC) had a tough time against Clemson starter Daniel Gossett, who gave up just five hits in seven innings pitched. The lone run that Gossett surrendered came on an RBI fielder’s choice by Joe McCarthy in the eighth inning.
Five Cavaliers recorded hits, while Mike Papi reached base three times.
“Tough loss,” Virginia coach Brian O’Connor said. “Clemson’s got a great ball club and so do we. Their starter was outstanding and we really had a tough time with him.
“I think that was the story of the ball game, he really shut us down.”
Virginia starting pitcher Josh Sborz was sharp through five innings and had not allowed a hit heading into the sixth inning when he faced Clemson left fielder Jay Baum. Sborz walked Baum and eventually the floodgates opened.
Clemson (21-13, 10-6 ACC) got its first hit on an RBI single from Tyler Krieger, the start of a three-run inning that chased Sborz, who left after allowing just one hit but walked three Tigers and was responsible for three runs in 5 1/3 innings pitched.
“It’s disappointing because I thought [Sborz] had a really good outing,” O’Connor said. “When you’re in a tight ball game where you think runs are going to be at a premium, you get in that situation where one more run could be the difference.”
“That’s why I pulled him in that situation.”
The Cavalier defense wasn’t as sharp as usual. Numerous fielding blunders and an uncharacteristic two errors put Clemson baserunners in scoring position time after time.
“Our defense, especially our throws from the outfield, was pretty sloppy,” O’Connor said. “When you play a really great ball club like Clemson, they make you pay for it.”
The Tigers built on their momentum in the top of the seventh inning, adding four more runs. The spurt was highlighted by Garrett Boulware's two-run homer to left field that gave Clemson a 7-0 lead.
The Cavaliers got runners on base against Clemson closer Matt Campbell in both the eighth and ninth innings, but were only able to plate one run.
Virginia and Clemson will play the rubber match today at 1 p.m.
“We’ve got another chance [today],” O’Connor said. “We’ve got a chance to win the series and we are looking forward to that opportunity.”