Virginia rallies for extra-inning win over Old Dominion - The Daily Progress: Sports

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Virginia rallies for extra-inning win over Old Dominion

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Posted: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 11:09 pm

A gorgeous night. A shaky start. An inspired comeback. A wild ending.

Call it just another Wednesday at Davenport Field.

This time, the Cavaliers flipped the script on the game’s final act.

A week after falling to Radford, UVa squeaked by its next nonconference opponent. The No. 7 Wahoos are 32-6 following a 10-9 win over Old Dominion in 10 innings.

Jared King slapped a two-out walk-off single into right field to score Branden Cogswell to provide the final dramatics.

“I told my team this many times this year,” said UVa coach Brian O’Connor, “they have a really, really great quality about them, and that is they never stop fighting, they never stop competing. They feel like they can always do something to try to win a ballgame.

“Tonight’s another example.”

Like the Highlander game last week, this one began with an Artie Lewicki appearance. The junior, eight months removed from Tommy John surgery, got his one inning in, yielding one run.

The Monarchs then feasted on the Josh Sborz-Nathan Kirby combination for a combined six runs.

The ’Hoos trailed 7-2 after five innings. It was shades of the 9-1 deficit they faced against Radford after two innings.

But Virginia’s furious rally ended in a 9-8 loss to the Highlanders. This, however, had the winning flavor.

Throw initial credit to Mike Papi.

Like the clutch gene he showed against Clemson and Wake Forest, the sophomore saved more late-inning fireworks for Old Dominion.

With his team down 8-4 in the seventh, Papi stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. He quickly turned on a 1-1 Brandon Smith fastball and sent it into the right field bleachers for a game-tying grand slam.

“Baseball is a pressure game,” Papi said. “I try not to put any more pressure on myself. I try to go up there and be the hitter that I am.”

Which, in 2013, has meant a .393 average and several drama-filled at-bats. Papi’s Wednesday heroics came less than two weeks after he hit a ninth-inning go-ahead grand slam at Wake.

“I feel like every time he gets up there with runners on base, I’m super confident in him,” King said. “His slugging percentage has to be out of this world right now [.702]. He’s done a great job of not putting too much pressure on himself.

“I know he’s not up there trying to hit home runs, but he’s doing a great job.”

But Papi’s slam almost went for naught.

The Monarchs (18-18) struck back in the eighth with a P.J. Higgins RBI single.

UVa would be forced to stage another comeback. It got it when Nate Irving scored on a throwing error in its half of the eighth.

The Cavs had runners at the corners in the ninth, but Nick Howard ended the threat by grounding into a double play.

Closer Kyle Crockett (3-0) stranded ODU’s Ben Verlander at third base in the 10th to set up the climatic King scene.

With Cogswell at second, King, a fifth-year senior, added another memory to his Virginia scrapbook.

It came against the Brad Geno, the Monarchs’ sidearm reliever.

“That guy is a guy that we really don’t see that much,” King said. “We see some sidearmers, but that guy was really throwing from his shoe-tops, real traditional submarine guy.

“He had struck me out in my last at-bat, but I felt like I was seeing everything pretty well. He was just getting ahead of our hitters from the time that he got in.

“I was just trying to go up there and be aggressive.”

The strategy work. King whacked Geno’s first pitch.

Cue the celebration.

No. 5 Florida State comes to Charlottesville on Friday.

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