RICHMOND, Va. – Derek Fisher (Fr., Rexmont, Pa.) cranked a long two-run home run with one out in the ninth inning to break a 5-5 tie and lift the No. 25 Virginia baseball team to a 7-5 win at VCU Wednesday night at The Diamond in Richmond, Va. UVa trailed 5-4 heading into the ninth but tied the game on a Stephen Bruno (Jr., Audubon, N.J.) double just before Fisher’s heroics.
The win also was the 400th in the coaching career of Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor. He needed just nine seasons to reach the 400-win plateau and now holds a career record of 400-144-2.
Bruno had three hits, including a pair of doubles, for Virginia (28-14-1), while Jared King (Sr., Radford, Va.) reached base in all five of his plate appearances with a double and four walks. Fisher drove in three runs for the Cavaliers.
UVa reliever Justin Thompson (Sr., Danville, Va.) held VCU scoreless over the eighth and ninth innings to earn the win and improve to 4-1 this season. VCU’s Kyle Pelchy (3-3) took the loss after allowing the first two runs in the ninth inning.
Virginia starting pitcher Shane Halley (Sr., Burke, Va.) worked 3.2 innings, giving up two earned runs, no hits and two walks. He struck out two. VCU starter Heath Dwyer tossed two full innings and pitched to the first five batters of the third inning. He allowed three earned runs, five hits and three walks while striking out one.
Virginia opened the scoring with a two-run second inning. UVa strung three straight hits together, as King doubled, Kenny Towns (Fr., Burke, Va.) hit an RBI double and Brandon Downes (Fr., South Plainfield, N.J.) singled to move Towns to third. Nate Irving (Fr., Yonkers, N.Y.) followed with a sacrifice fly to bring in Towns.
The Cavaliers added a run in the third inning while forcing Dwyer from the game. With one out Colin Harrington (Jr., Johnstown, Pa.) and Bruno hit consecutive singles. Fisher walked to load the bases, and Dwyer uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Harrington to come home. King walked to again load the bases, and Dwyer was replaced by Ryan Morrison, who retired the final two batters to end the threat.
The Rams (22-19) took advantage of a pair of walks to score twice in the fourth inning. With one out Jordan Weymouth walked, and Brent Mikionis coaxed a walk with two outs. Halley was replaced by Nick Howard (Fr., Olney, Md.), who gave up a two-run triple to left-center by Chris Ayers.
Virginia got a run back in the fifth. Harrington drew a leadoff walk and moved to third on a Bruno double to left. Reliever Matt Lees entered the game and induced Fisher to ground slowly to first to bring home Harrington.
The Rams moved ahead with three runs in the sixth inning. Bill Cullen hit a leadoff singled and moved to third one out later on a single to center by Joey Cujas. Mikionis ripped a single to center to plate Cullen. Austin Young (Jr., Mechanicsville, Va.) replaced Howard and gave up an RBI double to Ayers before Taylor Buran hit a sacrifice fly to bring in Mikionis and give VCU a 5-4 lead.
The Cavaliers forged ahead in the ninth inning. Taylor led off with a single and aggressively moved to second on a ball in the dirt. One out later Bruno launched a double into the right-center field gap to plate Taylor and knot the score. Reliever Blake Hauser entered to face Fisher, who crushed the 1-2 offering high and deep over the right-field wall for his sixth home run of the season.