Baseball dominates George Washington, 10-0
Senior Lewicki excels in return from injury, spurs Cavs to eighth consecutive win
Two years ago, Artie Lewicki was a fixture in the Virginia baseball team’s weekend rotation. The senior right-hander was the Cavaliers’ Sunday starter and pitched 77.2 innings on the year, the second-highest total on the Virginia staff.
That August, Lewicki had Tommy John surgery. While recovering from the elbow-reconstruction procedure, he barely played last season, pitching all of two innings for Virginia.
This year, Lewicki suffered an oblique strain while warming up for his start against Virginia Military Institute in the Cavaliers’ eighth game of the season. The injury dogged him in the days that followed.
“When I raised my glove to throw my last warm-up, I just felt a little bit of a pulling sensation, I guess, in my left side, and it turned into a sharp pain from there,” Lewicki said. “Just kind of debilitating, to be honest. I couldn’t really move that much.”
He made a cameo appearance against Princeton March 20, failing to record an out. Until Wednesday night, when No. 1 Virginia (25-4, 10-2 ACC) defeated George Washington (7-18, 1-5 A-10) 10-0 at Davenport Field for its eighth consecutive win, Lewicki’s talents had been veiled and restrained by injury.
Lewicki started for the Cavaliers Wednesday, and in his three scoreless innings of work, he reminded onlookers of the pitcher he once was and may be again. He retired Colonials freshman right fielder Andrew Selby on two fastballs — one zooming in at 90 miles per hour and the other at 91 — in the first at-bat of the game.
“It was definitely a big weight off my shoulders to go out there and get your feet wet a little bit — throw the first pitch, everything feels great,” Lewicki said. “I wasn’t favoring this side at all. I was just able to relax and go out there and pitch.”
Through two and one-third innings, George Washington had yet to reach base. Coach Brian O’Connor and pitching coach Karl Kuhn had set their starter’s maximum pitch count at 30 prior to the game, but Lewicki ducked under that figure with ease, throwing an efficient 25 in his stint on the mound. Only one ball left the infield against him as the Cavaliers improved to 18-1 at home.
“It looked like he was back to his old self with being able to torque his upper-body a little bit,” O’Connor said. “And so, I’m happy because, you know, that guy’s got a lot of experience under his belt and he can really make a difference for us here in the back half of the season.”
George Washington started sophomore right-hander Luke Olson, a six-foot-four Australian submariner. Olson’s delivery did not bother the Cavaliers for long, as they jumped on him for four runs in the second inning.
Senior center fielder Brandon Downes led off the inning with a walk, and he came around to score on sophomore right fielder and reigning ACC Co-Player of the Week Joe McCarthy’s triple into the right-field corner.
Junior third baseman Kenny Towns doubled to left-center field three batters later, bringing home sophomore catcher Robbie Coman and freshman designated hitter Matt Thaiss, who reached base on a walk and a single through the right side of the infield, respectively.
Junior second baseman Branden Cogwsell made the second out of the frame on a fly ball to left field, but that was the only one he made all evening. Cogswell finished 4-for-5 with two RBI and one run scored, one of his best offensive performances of the season.
Cogswell hit .346 for Virginia last year and earned second-team All-ACC honors, but was slow out of the gate in 2014. The Cavaliers’ leadoff man did not allow his depressed batting average to lower his spirits.
“I was still hitting balls hard — just right at people,” Cogswell said. “So, you get down on yourself, that’s just going to extend your slump. You know, you’ve got to take a positive thing out of every at-bat and keep a positive attitude toward everything because, eventually, in this game, things will come around and you’ll get rewarded for doing things right.”
Sophomore third baseman John La Prise and freshman shortstop Daniel Pinero showed off their glove-work while Lewicki excelled on the mound.
La Prise hit the dirt to snag sophomore catcher Mattieu Robért’s hard-hit groundball for the first out of the second inning, and Pinero bare-handed freshman shortstop Kevin Mahala’s slow-bounding grounder before throwing to first on the move for the final out of the third. La Prise made another diving stop to keep senior first baseman Owen Beightol from scoring on freshman pinch hitter Joey Bartosic’s infield single.
Junior left fielder Mike Papi entered the game reaching base at a ridiculous .504 clip, and for the most part, George Washington elected to simply not pitch to him. Papi walked four times against the Colonials, and three of his free passes were intentional. The last of his base-on-balls came in the Cavaliers’ four-run eighth inning, when La Prise doubled with one out and the next four Virginia batters reached base.
Sophomore left-hander David Rosenberger, senior right-hander Austin Young and sophomore right-hander Cameron Tekker completed the shutout for Virginia. Tekker had his fastball humming between 92 and 94 miles per hour and also got swings and misses with his hard slider.
Virginia will travel to Pittsburgh for a three-game series this weekend at Chester L. Cost Field.