CLEMSON, S.C. - Mike Papi(So., Tunkhannock, Pa.) hit a pinch-hit, game-tying single in the ninth inning and the go-ahead solo home run in the 11th as the No. 12 Virginia baseball team rallied to top Clemson, 6-5, Friday evening at Doug Kingsmore Stadium in Clemson, S.C. Virginia (16-1, 3-1 ACC) trailed 5-2 with one out in the ninth inning before staging a comeback to force extra innings.
Virginia has won nine straight games against Clemson (10-6, 2-2) dating to 2010, marking its longest win streak ever over the Tigers.
UVa mounted a big ninth-inning comeback, scoring three times to tie the game. Brandon Downes (So., South Plainfield, N.J.) doubled off the top of the left-field wall to start the inning against Clemson closer Matt Campbell, and Joe McCarthy (Fr., Scranton, Pa.) followed with a single to move Downes to third. McCarthy stole second as Towns struck out on a check swing. Nick Howard (So., Olney, Md.) grounded to short to score Downes to cut it to 5-3, and Reed Gragnani (Sr., Richmond, Va.) hit a rocket off the top of wall in right-center to plate McCarthy. Kyle Schnell came on in relief, but Papi, pinch hitting for Nate Irving(So., Yonkers, N.Y.) singled up the middle to score Gragnani to knot the score.
Virginia loaded the bases with one out in the 10th, but reliever Mike Kent came on to strike out Towns and get Howard to fly out to right. Papi then crushed a one-out pitch from Kent over the right-field wall for his second homer of the year.
Eight of the Cavaliers' starters had at least one hit, while Papi, Branden Cogswell (So., Ballston Lake, N.Y.) and Kenny Towns(So., Burke, Va.) each picked up a pair. UVa finished with a dozen hits, with nine coming after the sixth inning.
Virginia's bullpen allowed just two hits over 5 2/3 shutout innings. Kyle Crockett(Jr., Poquoson, Va.) allowed just one hit and struck out four over 2 2/3 innings to earn the win and improve to 2-0. The seventh pitcher of the night for Clemson, Kent (0-1) took the loss after giving up Papi's solo blast.
Virginia starting pitcher Brandon Waddell(Fr., Houston, Texas) allowed five runs (four earned), eight hits and two walks over 6 1/3 innings. He struck out eight. Clemson starter Daniel Gossett worked seven innings, allowing two earned runs, five hits and no walks while fanning six.
Clemson used the long ball to take the lead in the second inning. Garrett Boulware reached on a throwing error by third baseman Howard to lead off the inning and one out later Shane Kennedy homered into the third row of seats in left-center field. It was the first home run allowed by Waddell this year.
Virginia cut the lead in half in the fourth inning, following a leadoff double from Derek Fisher(So., Rexmont, Pa.). Downes grounded out to second base to move the runner to third, and McCarthy hit a sacrifice fly to left-center field.
Clemson promptly responded in its half of the fourth with a pair of runs. Steve Wilkerson hit a leadoff double and Boulware and Steven Duggar hit back-to-back singles to plate Wilkerson. Kennedy followed with a sacrifice fly to push the lead to 4-1. Jon McKibbon then singled to left, but Fisher nailed Duggar at the plate with a perfect throw.
The Tigers tacked on a run in the fifth. Following a one-out walk to Thomas Brittle, Jay Baum and Wilkerson hit consecutive singles to bring the run home.
UVa scored once in the seventh inning as Towns tripled and Howard followed with a single to left.
The Cavaliers threatened in the eighth when, with a runner on first, Fisher launched a long two-out fly ball to right-center, but the ball was caught at the top of the wall by Brittle.
The teams will play the second game of the series at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, while the finale is set for 1 p.m. Sunday. Both games will air on ESPN3.