No. 1 Virginia takes down Heels, Benton Moss, 3-1
Benton Moss allowed just three hits in 7.2 innings of work but Virginia made the most of them as the top-ranked Cavaliers beat North Carolina 3-1 Saturday afternoon at Davenport Field.
Kenny Towns' two-run homer in the third was the difference as Virginia clinched the series win behind Josh Sbroz, Connor Jones and Nick Howard. All nine Carolina starters had hits but the Tar Heels left nine men on base, including seven in the first three innings.
Virginia (33-6, 16-4 ACC) opened the scoring with a run in the first after Branden Cogswell led off the inning with a double down the line in right. Two batters later it was 1-0 as Daniel Pinero moved Cogswell to third with a sacrifice and Mike Papi drove him in with an RBI groundout.
Carolina got seven men on base in the first three innings against Sborz (4-2), but the Virginia sophomore kept the Tar Heels off the scoreboard until the fifth. By then it was 3-0, as Towns' first home run of the year in the third gave the hosts a pair of insurance runs.
Skye Bolt led off the Tar Heel fifth with a single to left and moved to second when Tom Zengel dropped the first pitch he saw into right. After a Landon Lassiter sacrifice, Parks Jordan made it 3-1 with an RBI groundout to first. But Sborz limited the damage to one run when he covered the bag on a Tyler Ramirez grounder to end the inning.
Jones took over for Sborz in the sixth and proved to be an effective bridge to Howard, as the right-hander allowed just one run over three shutout innings. The hit was a one-out double by Zach Daly, but Daly was doubled up trying to take third on a Michael Russell grounder to end the sixth.
Moss (2-2) got stronger over the middle innings, retiring eight in a row and 11 of 12 at one point to keep the Tar Heels close.
But for the second day in a row, Howard dominated the ninth as he retired the side in order with a pair of strikeouts for his 13th save of the year.
Carolina fell to 22-17 and 9-11 with the loss, and the Tar Heels will try to salvage the series finale on Sunday at 1 p.m.