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The Cavaliers' expected MLB Draft pick struck out three batters in the ninth inning for the second straight night.
JIM DAVES | Virginia
Virginia third baseman Kenny Towns doubles in a run in the fourth inning against Elon on Saturday.
Saturday, June 1, 2013
CHARLOTTESVILLE — Under different circumstances, Virginia baseball coach Brian O’Connor might have thought twice before calling on closer Kyle Crockett in the eighth inning for a second straight night.
O’Connor showed no hesitation in the second game of the Charlottesville Regional.
Crockett, a first-team All-ACC selection and a likely draft pick in the Major League Baseball Draft, struck out three batters in the ninth inning for the second straight night as the Cavaliers held off Elon 2-0.
Virginia improved to 49-10 while Elon dropped to 33-29.
UVa, needing one victory to move onto a super regional that it would host, will return to action at 6 tonight against the winner of an elimination game between Elon and UNC Wilmington.
“I really believe when you’re in the 1-0 game and you have a chance [to go 2-0], you have to do everything you can do to win that game because the other teams have to play each other [Sunday] afternoon,” O’Connor said.
“They have to play 18 innings of baseball and we don’t. We play nine innings of baseball and certainly there can be an advantage there, so I just felt it was important for our club to win the one in front of us … with our guy. And Kyle Crockett has been our guy in that scenario all year.
“We’ve had some pretty special closers here and no disrespect to any of them, but this guy is the best.”
If the Cavaliers were to lose this evening, they would have another chance to lock up the super regional bid Monday night.
Virginia’s mostly potent bats were mostly quiet against much-traveled Elon left-hander Spencer Medick, who had played down the road at Woodberry Forest and attended camp at Davenport Field as a teenager.
Medick began his college career at Hampden-Sydney before transferring to Polk (Fla.) Community College. Saturday night’s loss dropped his record to 7-7, but he lowered his earned-run average from 5.09 to 4.56 in a 129-pitch complete game.
He was opposed by fifth-year UVa senior Scott Silverstein, who scattered six innings in notching his team-leading 10th victory. Silverstein (10-1, 2.68) missed two full seasons following shoulder surgery and had a 3-5 record after four years.
“Last year, he went through his struggles but he hung in there,” O’Connor said. “He learned from last season. He didn’t just stay the same. He got better. It’s a pretty special story.”
Virginia was coming off a 2-1 victory over Army in which the Cavaliers scored both runs in the fifth inning. The Cavaliers also limited their scoring to one inning Saturday, a two-run fourth.
UVa shortstop Nick Howard, who had made a nifty defensive play with two out and the bases loaded in the third, had a one-out single in the fourth and reached third on a stolen base and wild pitch.
Third baseman and No. 8 hitter Kenny Towns followed with a double, his third extra-base hit in two nights, to score Howard. Then, catcher Nate Irving singled to score Towns with the eventual winning run.
Elon’s best scoring opportunity came in the bottom of the fifth. With one out and a runner on first, All-ACC baseman Reed Gragnani allowed a potential double-play grounder to go through his legs and the Phoenix were left with runners on second and third.
Up came first baseman Ryan Kinsella, who entered the game with 20 home runs and 76 runs batted in. Silverstein struck out Kinsella for the second time in three appearances and then induced a lineout to Gragnani that ended the threat.
“Reed has picked me up multiple times all year,” Silverstein said, “so, I guess it was my turn to pick him up.”
It was Silverstein’s first career start in the NCAA Tournament and came before a crowd of 4,434 that was just shy of capacity.
“That’s the reason I came to Virginia,” he said. “Whether it’s the first year or the fifth year, that’s the environment I came to play in.”
O’Connor added, “I hated to take the ball from him but he had done his job.”
Virginia 000 200 000 — 2 9 1
Elon 000 000 000 — 0 8 1
Silverstein, Sborz (7), Crockett (8) and Irving; Medick and Swim. W-Silverstein. L-Medick. S-Crockett.
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