Strong pitching leads No. 11 baseball to midweek sweep
Sophomore starter Daniel Lynch throws complete game
After seeing its eight-game win streak snapped Saturday at Virginia Tech, the No. 11 Virginia baseball team rolled into this week looking to get started on a new streak. The Cavaliers (31-9, 10-8 ACC) did just that, cruising to wins over Longwood (12-23, 4-8 Big South) and James Madison (18-18, 3-9 CAA) at Davenport Field behind solid pitching efforts and a couple big rallies from the plate.
Virginia delivered yet another complete performance in a midweek game when it downed Longwood, 13-2, Tuesday night. The Cavaliers jumped out to a lead on the strength of big hits from its hottest hitters. Sophomore outfielder Cameron Simmons belted a two-run homer in the second inning to open up the scoring — his third in the past week. Graduate catcher Robbie Coman added a two-run blast of his own in the seventh inning — his fifth of the year — extending his hitting streak to 12 games. The blasts gave Virginia its 10th-consecutive game with a home run, the longest streak for the team since the 1998 season when the team homered for 11-straight games.
Junior first baseman Pavin Smith extended his reign as one of the hottest hitters in the nation, going 4-4 with three RBIs. His second RBI came in six-run fifth inning that broke the game open, putting Virginia up 9-1. Sophomore infielder Andy Weber chipped in three RBIs on two hits, and junior Adam Haseley kept his average over .400 with two hits of his own.
While the Virginia offense rolled against Longwood’s pitching, the Cavaliers gave a solid effort on the mound. Sophomore starter Evan Sperling gave Virginia 4.2 innings of one-run ball — striking out seven in one of his better outings of the year. Sperling’s five walks on the day shows there is still room for improvement, but the righty continues to show signs of promise. Junior reliever Bennett Sousa gave a stellar performance out of the bullpen, pitching 2.1 innings and striking out five Lancers while not allowing a base runner. Longwood only mustered two runs on two hits against Virginia’s pitchers.
The Cavaliers once again delivered on both sides of the ball against in-state rival James Madison Wednesday. The Virginia bats wasted little time in backing sophomore starter Daniel Lynch, bursting out with a five-run second inning to take a commanding lead over the Dukes. The outburst chased James Madison’s starter from the game after only 1.2 innings of work. Junior shortstop Ernie Clement led the charge for the Cavaliers, tallying three RBIs on two hits, both game highs for the team. Haseley added two RBIs.
The star of the game for Virginia was undoubtedly Lynch. The southpaw fired a complete game for the Cavaliers, allowing only two runs on six hits while striking out seven Dukes. The complete game was the first midweek complete game for Virginia since 2011 when pitcher Will Roberts fired a perfect game against George Washington. After a rough start to the year as a weekend starter, Lynch has thrived in his role as a midweek starter as he continually improved. The sophomore picked up his sixth win of the season in Virginia’s 7-2 win over the Dukes.
The two big wins put Virginia over the 30-win threshold for the year with 15 games left in the season. The Cavaliers have dominated its non-conference schedule this season, improving to 21-1 against non-ACC foes with the wins this week.
Virginia will get a visit from ACC foe Notre Dame this weekend as it looks to better its 10-8 conference record. First pitch of the series between the Cavaliers and Fighting Irish is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Davenport Field Friday.