Virginia baseball continued its 15-game stretch at Disharoon Park, facing Bucknell in a four-game weekend series and William and Mary in a one-off, midweek clash. The Cavaliers (6-3, 0-0 ACC) took the the first two games and series finale against Bucknell but were overpowered by the Bison (2-6, 0-0 Patriot League) in the third game. Against William and Mary (3-5, 0-0 CAA), the Cavaliers took the lead in the fifth inning, putting themselves in position to win.
Game 1 — Virginia 6, Bucknell 5
Virginia took an early 4-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. With the bases loaded, junior first baseman Devin Ortiz hit a grand slam home run over the left wall, giving him and three other Cavaliers — junior left-fielder Brendan Rivoli, senior catcher Logan Michaels and junior right-fielder Marc Lebreux — time to run in and score.
After junior right-hander Griff McGarry blew through the Bucknell lineup in the top of the fifth inning, Virginia scored two runs, making the score 6-0. Both Rivoli and sophomore third baseman Zack Gelof paved the way for their respective runs by being aggressive on the base pads — both stealing their first and only bases of the day.
The rest of the game would prove to be a struggle for Cavalier pitchers as the Bison looked to narrow their deficit in the final innings. Bucknell finally put points on the board at the top of the sixth inning, bringing the score to 6-2.
The top of the eighth inning brought three pitching changes for Virginia. Senior right-hander Paul Kosanovich took the hill first, followed by graduate student right-hander Evan Sperling. Despite Sperling’s best efforts, his pitching and an error from freshman center-fielder Chris Newell allowed two Bucknell runs.
Freshman right-hander Matt Wyatt took over for Sperling and allowed Bucknell to load the bases, paving the way for senior right-hander Stephen Schoch to take over. He stepped up to the plate — literally and figuratively — and got the Cavaliers out of the inning.
Schoch pitched the remainder of the game. Bucknell scored one more run in the ninth inning, but the Cavaliers ultimately kept their lead.
Game 2 — Virginia 14, Bucknell 3
Virginia improved both offensively and defensively in the second game of the series and went on to beat Bucknell 14-3 — their first win by double-digits since last April.
The Cavaliers took an early 4-0 lead in the first inning. Sophomore infielder Nic Kent and freshman designated hitter Max Cotier ran in to score the first two runs off of a strong center-field hit from Lebreux. The next two came after a line drive to center field by Michaels and a missed catch by Bucknell gave Gelof and Lebreux time to run in and score.
By the bottom of the fourth inning, Virginia had doubled their lead to eight. Bucknell, on the other hand, didn’t record a hit until the fifth inning of the game. They continued to struggle, hitting only 6 on 36 at-bats in the game.
Meanwhile, Virginia continued to shine. Underclassmen recorded particularly impressive performances, scoring 10 of the 14 Cavalier runs. The Cavaliers scored on all but one turn at-bat.
Virginia pitching also improved since the first game of the series. Sophomore right-hander Mike Vasil started for the Cavaliers and pitched six innings, sitting down 11-straight batters and striking out a career-high 10 batters total.
Vasil is the first Cavalier to record double-digit strikeouts since Daniel Lynch in 2018 — Lynch was later drafted by the Kansas City Royals.
Game 3 — Bucknell 14, Virginia 10
Coming in hot after a victory in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, Virginia couldn’t make another win happen in the second. They fell to Bucknell 14-10.
The Cavaliers took the first lead of the game and went up 1-0 in the first inning. Neither team scored after that until the third inning when Bucknell scored three runs, taking away Virginia’s only lead of the game.
With Bucknell up 4-2 heading into the sixth inning, Virginia seemed to be well within reach of taking over. Then the Bison went on to score five back-to-back runs in the sixth and seventh innings and Virginia could only answer with three runs in each.
A scoreless eighth inning left Virginia down 14-8 heading into the ninth and pitching from the Cavaliers held that score down in the top of the inning.
Still trailing by six at the bottom of the inning, Rivoli hit an RBI single that allowed Kent and Newell to score. Within four runs, the Cavaliers were able to load the bases with only one out, thanks to a walk from Lebreux. Bucknell freshman right-hander Andrew Funovits struck out two Cavalier batters, leaving Virginia runners stranded at every base and closing the game.
“I thought Bucknell was ferocious in that second [Saturday] game,” Coach Brian O'Connor said. "They just kept coming at us and we just couldn't put them away.”
This was Virginia’s first loss to Bucknell under O’Connor.
Game 4 — Virginia 12, Bucknell 3
In a 12-3 victory in the final game of the series, Virginia was able to regain their footing after Saturday’s loss.
The Bison put themselves on the board first, scoring one unearned run in the top of the second inning. The Cavaliers answered at the bottom of the second inning. After a bunt-base hit from sophomore catcher and infielder Drew Hamrock, Michaels ran in to score.
The Cavaliers found offensive momentum in the bottom of the third inning when an RBI single from Michaels brought Rivoli around to score. Two Virginia walks later, Hamrock’s sharp hit in combination with a Bucknell error allowed Lebreux and Michaels to run in. On the next play, a passed ball on Newell allowed Ortiz to advance and score, putting the Cavaliers up 5-1.
Bucknell went on to score their last two runs of the day in the top of the fifth inning. After that, Virginia exploded in the fifth and sixth innings, as the team scored a combined seven runs.
A scoreless sixth, seventh and eighth innings kept the Cavaliers on top by nine. They finished the series 3-1, improving to 5-3 on the season.
William and Mary
Coming off the weekend wins against Bucknell, Virginia faced William and Mary (3-5, 0-0 CAA) Tuesday, pushing past the Tribe in the fifth inning to take an 8-5 lead with the rest of the game remaining scoreless.
William and Mary was on the board first after taking a 2-0 lead after a fielding error by Virginia at the top of the first inning. Virginia answered with a run of its own after an RBI single from Rivoli, which gave Cotier time to run in for the score.
Virginia took a 4-2 lead in the second inning after one RBI from Cotier and two RBIs from Gelof that allowed junior designated hitter Christian Hlinka, Kent and Newell, respectively, to score.
William and Mary responded to Virginia’s offense by tying the game up in the top of the third inning. The Tribe then took a one-run lead in the top of the fourth, making the score 5-4.
In the fifth inning, Gelof ran in to score off the bat of Lebreux who doubled down the right field line. Lebreux was positioned on second base for the next at-bat when Michaels hit a home run. Virginia was now up 7-5.
Hlinka finished off the inning for the Cavaliers by hitting a home run to right-field. This was the last run of the game for either team, so the score remained 8-5 in Virginia’s favor.
After taking over towards the end of the top of the fifth inning, junior left-hander Andrew Abbott pitched the sixth, seventh and eighth innings for Virginia. He struck out a career-high eight batters.
"I thought that [Andrew] Abbott was the story of the game, his longest outing of the year,” O’Connor said. “He showed the value he has and the weapon he is out of our bullpen."
Schoch pitched the ninth inning for Virginia and held it down, leading the Cavaliers to a victory.
Up next, Virginia will begin a three-game weekend series against Dartmouth Friday at 3 p.m. in Disharoon Park.