CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Trailing 5-3 heading to the bottom of the ninth, No. 7 Virginia rallied for three runs to defeat the Duke baseball team 6-5 Friday evening at Davenport Field. The Cavaliers doubled their hit total with five in the final frame, capped by a Nate Irving walk-off single to clinch the victory.
Sophomore Trent Swart was outstanding in eight innings of work, scattering five hits, striking out six and walking one. Swart allowed two earned runs and three runs overall as the Duke left-hander faced the minimum in five innings and retired 12 straight batters from the second to the sixth frames.
Sophomore Andrew Istler (3-5) came on in the ninth and retired the first batter he faced before Brandon Downes tripled off the wall in left and ultimately scored on a wild pitch. Following a 55-minute weather delay, Virginia received base hits from Nick Howard and Reed Gragnani to tie the game at 5-5. Duke (25-24, 9-16 ACC) intentionally walked Kenny Towns to load the bases, but Irving delivered the game-winning RBI on a base hit through the right side.
Virginia (40-8, 18-7 ACC) jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the opening frame as the first three hitters in the Cavalier lineup reached base. Left fielder Mike Papi started with a leadoff walk, the only free pass surrendered by Swart on the evening, and first baseman Jared King singled to put two aboard for three-hitter Joe McCarthy. Following a passed ball, McCarthy laced a two-run single up the middle. Swart was able to regroup and induced a double play and a grounder to short to get out of the frame without further damage.
Swart faced just three over the minimum the rest of the way and kept UVa in check, relinquishing a lone run in his final seventh innings of work.
The Blue Devils answered in the third with an Andy Perez two-run blast, his fourth of the season. Junior Mark Lumpa walked to start the frame and Perez fought off several pitches before driving UVa starter Brandon Waddell’s 2-2 offering over the wall in left.
Duke took a 4-2 lead an inning later on a Kenny Koplove two-run shot, his first career home run in a Blue Devil uniform.
After a Chris Marconcini leadoff double in the sixth went for naught, Virginia cut the lead to a single run in the bottom half of the inning. Center fielder Brandon Downes drove in King with a two-out single to left field to make it a 4-3 game.
Senior Jeff Kremer came up with a huge hit in the seventh, driving a two-out RBI double to the gap in right center to extend Duke’s lead back to two runs, 5-3.
Nathan Kirby (4-1) picked up the win, recording the final two outs in the top of the ninth. UVa starter Waddell allowed four runs, two earned, over 6.1 innings in the no decision.
The two teams reconvene Saturday with the first pitch of game two set for 4 p.m. at Davenport Field.