MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — Behind six shutout innings from starting pitcher Nathan Kirby, Virginia downed Hartford 5-1 Friday afternoon at The Ripken Experience’s Ebbets Field in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Matt Thaiss hit a two-run home run in the first inning to give the Cavaliers (8-0) an early three-run cushion.
Ranked as high as No. 1 nationally, Virginia was forced to alter its regularly scheduled weekend round robin tournament because of inclement weather and field conditions in Charlottesville.
Kirby (3-0) worked six innings, giving up four hits and four walks in earning his third win in as many starts in 2015. He struck out 10 for his third career double-figure strikeout performance. Alec Bettinger tossed the final three innings to earn his first career save.
Starter Kyle Gauthier (1-1) took the loss for Hartford (2-2), after allowing five runs (four earned), five hits and three walks with three strikeouts in six innings.
Pavin Smith went 2-for-4 for UVa and now has hits in all eight of his college games. Adam Haseley scored a pair of runs and drove in a run for the Cavaliers, who totaled six hits. David MacKinnon had three hits for Hartford, which finished with nine hits but left a dozen runners on base.
UVa took control early with a three-run first inning. Ernie Clement tripled to left-center to open the frame and Haseley promptly drove him home with a single up the middle. With two outs, Thaiss launched a shot to right field that caromed off a storage building behind the wall for his third homer of the season.
The Cavaliers pushed the lead to 4-0 in the third inning as Haseley drew a one-out walk and scored when Smith sent an opposite-field double to left to bring the runner around to score.
UVa took advantage of a Hartford error to add its final run in the fifth inning. With two outs, Smith reached on a fielding error and he scored when Towns lined a double down the left-field line.
Hartford had runners on base in every inning but finally capitalized with two outs in the ninth inning when MacKinnon singled to left-center to bring home Sebastian DiMauro.
The weekend round-robin tournament, which also includes Seton Hall and Cornell, continues Saturday and Sunday.