Louisville scored runs in four of its last five trips to the plate Saturday to pull away for a 9-5 win over Virginia to even their best-of-3 series at one game apiece.
The Cardinals’ victory sets up Sunday’s rubber match, which is slated for a 1 p.m. first pitch on ACC Network Extra.
Louisville’s Dalton Rushing and Alex Binelas both hit a home run for the second consecutive game, but on Saturday, the long balls proved to be the difference in the game.
Rushing broke a 3-3 tie in the sixth with a two-run shot to a three-run innning for the Cardinals (21-11, 13-6 ACC). In the next inning, Binelas went deep for the ninth time this season, a two-run blast that made it 8-3.
After Louisville added a run in the ninth to make it a six-run game, the Cavaliers (17-16, 9-14 ACC) scored two runs in the bottom half to pull within four before reliever Evan Webster retired the final three batters to end the game.
Virginia held leads of 1-0 and 3-2 in the game but could not keep the ACC’s top offense at bay. Louisville racked up 17 hits on the afternoon, the most by a UVa opponent this season.
“Mike Vasil has done a really great job all year long giving us quality starts when we’ve needed them in the back part of the weekend, but I tip my cap to Louisville they did a nice job against him today,” Virginia coach Brian O’Connor. “They swung the bats very aggressively and took advantage of opportunities. The game was really won in those middle innings, we had opportunities where we didn’t capitalize and they did.”
Freshman Kyle Teel drove in three of the Cavaliers’ five runs and finished 1-for-4 with a bases-loaded walk. Teel gave Virginia its final lead with a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the third inning.
Devin Ortiz, who hit the game-tying home run in the ninth inning of Virginia’s extra-inning win on Friday night, went 2-for-4 with two runs, an RBI and a walk, his third-straight multi-hit performance. He drove in a ninth-inning run for the second time in two games on a double down the right field line. Ortiz extended his hit streak to 13 games with an infield single in the third.
Senior Brendan Rivoli also was 2-for-4 with two runs scored. He reached base three times and recorded two doubles. Catcher Logan Michaels, who scored the game-winning run on Friday night, threw out four of the five Louisville runners attempting to steal, the most in a single game by a UVa catcher since the statistic was first consistently tracked in 2000. He also recorded a pair of hits in the game.
Virginia will send lefty Nate Savino (1-1) to the mound on Sunday afternoon and he will be opposed by righthander Luke Smith (0-2). A win would give the Cavaliers its third consecutive series win.
“We get an opportunity tomorrow to play better baseball and win a series,” O’Connor said.