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Four-run second key in Virginia’s series-clinching victory

Courtesy UVA Media Relations

uva baseballVirginia plated all four its runs in the second inning and held on for a 4-3 win over Duke on Saturday at Disharoon Park.

The Cavaliers (19-18, 11-15 ACC) clinched the series and will go for the sweep on Sunday at 2 p.m. on ESPNU.

A two-out infield single to third base on an over shifted infield by Tate Ballestero (Morristown, N.J.) ignited a four-run rally in the second inning and proved to be the difference in the game. The Cavaliers trailed 1-0 going into the frame and captured the lead for good on RBI single from Chris Newell (Newtown Square, Pa.) that scored two runs thanks to a Blue Devil fielding error.

Virginia tacked on two more runs, the first on an RBI double by Zack Gelof (Rehoboth Beach, Del.) and the final run of the inning on an RBI single from Max Cotier (New Milford, Conn.) to put Virginia up 4-1.

Gelof was 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI in the contest. The junior extended his reached base streak to 14 games and now has hit safely in 11-straight. Cotier is 3-for-5 with three runs scored and three RBI in two games against Duke.

“The second inning, the four runs with two outs and nobody on was the ball game for us,” head coach Brian O’Connor said. “We didn’t do much else offensively but fortunately that was enough. Mike (Vasil) did a good job of getting us a quality start, (Brandon) Neeck did a really nice job and certainly (Stephen) Schoch did as well. It was a total team effort. It wasn’t what we wanted to do defensively but I was proud of our guys, they hung in there and we found a way to win.”

Starting pitcher Mike Vasil (Wellesley, Mass.) delivered his team-leading sixth quality start and earned his ACC-best sixth win of the season. The righthander tossed six innings and was charged with two of the three Duke runs scored. Vasil struck out six batters and walked two in his 26th career start in a Cavalier uniform.

Vasil’s only blemish on his line came in the sixth when RJ Schreck hit a two-run homer to pull Duke within a run.

Lefty Brandon Neeck (Chappaqua, N.Y.) recorded his third hold of the year pitching 1.1 innings of scoreless relief. He induced an inning-ending double play in the seventh with runners on first and third to swing the momentum back in UVA’s favor. He struck out the first lefthanded batter of the eighth before giving way to Stephen Schoch (Laurel, Md.) with one out and no one on.

Schoch finished off the 1-2-3 eighth inning and worked around a UVA fielding error in the ninth for his seventh save of the year. His last five saves he’s been called on to get four or more outs. The save was his 12th of his two-year Virginia career, moving him into a tie for 10th place all-time on the UVA career saves list.

The Cavaliers will have lefthander Nate Savino (1-2) on the mound in Sunday’s finale and he will be opposed by righthander Cooper Stinson (2-2).

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