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No. 16 Virginia falls 2-1 in weekend series at Florida State

Walks plagued the Cavaliers as the Seminoles secured their second-straight series-win over Virginia

<p>Senior left-hander Andrew Abbott had a career day in the first game of the series against the Seminoles, but his dominant performance couldn’t help the struggling offense pull off a win.</p>

Senior left-hander Andrew Abbott had a career day in the first game of the series against the Seminoles, but his dominant performance couldn’t help the struggling offense pull off a win.

No. 16 Virginia dropped its weekend series against Florida State as the Seminoles (4-5, 2-4 ACC) recorded their second-straight series win against the Cavaliers (6-5, 2-4 ACC). Virginia fell in both games Friday and Saturday, but narrowly defeated Florida State 2-1 Sunday afternoon. Walks were a major obstacle for the Cavaliers to overcome as the pitching staff struggled to find the zone throughout the series. 

Game 1: Virginia 0, Florida State 2

Despite an outstanding career day for senior left-hander Andrew Abbott, Virginia remained scoreless in its first game against Florida State Friday night at Dick Howser Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla. The pitching staff on both sides combined for a whopping 29 strikeouts in the series opener, with Abbott accounting for 14 — the most by a Cavalier pitcher since 2014 — in 5.2 innings pitched. Virginia was unable to produce at the plate, however, and fell 2-0 to the Seminoles. 

In his first four innings on the mound, Abbott struck out six straight batters following a leadoff single, as well as recording 11 of his 14 Ks in that frame. But his dominant performance couldn’t help the offense as the Cavaliers were unable to cross the plate in nine innings, accepting their first shutout since March 2019. 

Junior shortstop Nic Kent, sophomore second-baseman Max Cotier and junior third-baseman Zach Gelof each recorded a hit, and senior catcher Logan Michaels added to combine for Virginia’s four hits on the night, but the Seminoles stifled the Cavalier’s efforts to produce a single run. 

Junior pitchers Zach Messinger and Brandon Neeck came into the game to finish the final three innings of play, allowing just a single hit and adding four strikeouts to give Virginia 18 on the day. Freshman left-hander Parker Messick, however, went eight innings on the hill, producing 11 strikeouts to secure the win for Florida State. 

Game 2: Virginia 4, Florida State 9

The Cavaliers fell to the Seminoles 9-4 in Saturday afternoon’s matchup as a fourth inning hitting streak allowed Florida State to secure the series-clinching win. As Virginia struggled to convert on offense, the Seminoles scored the first nine runs of the game — a deficit the Cavaliers struggled to overcome at the plate.

Five Virginia pitchers allowed a combined 11 walks, six of which were at the hands of senior right-handed starter Griff McGarry who gave up four straight free passes between the first pair of innings. Senior right-hander Kyle Whitten and freshman left-hander Luke Schauer managed to keep the score in check in the final 2.1 innings and let in a hit but no runs in the ninth inning as the game came to a close.

Freshman pitcher Bryce Hubbart’s starting performance sealed Florida State’s victory as he allowed just one hit by Gelof in the first inning. Hubbart recorded six strikeouts on the day, giving up two walks and retiring the final 11 batters before relief came in. 

After struggling to get on the board for the first part of the game, Virginia finally caught a spark in the seventh-inning and cut the game nearly in half with a four-run rally. Michaels reached base with a fly ball that the Seminoles couldn’t come up with, setting up the opportunity for four unearned runs to cross home. Sophomore center fielder Chris Newell tapped an infield single, beating the throw and allowing Michaels to score the first run of the afternoon. With two outs and the bases loaded, Kent clocked a bases-clearing double to make the score 9-4. Florida State held onto its five-run lead through the remainder of the game, clinching its first series win over the Cavaliers in Tallahassee since 2012. 

Game 3: Virginia 2, Florida State 1

Virginia concluded the series with a win Sunday afternoon, defeating the Seminoles 2-1 despite a late game effort by Florida State. Junior right-hander Mike Vasil went 6.1 innings, allowing just three hits and one earned run while recording an impressive nine strikeouts to stifle the Seminole offense. 

Kent singled to right field to open the game, advancing to second after Cotier produced a sacrifice bunt. Senior designated-hitter Brendan Rivoli followed up with a double to left field, allowing Kent to cross home and give the Cavaliers an early lead. 

Virginia extended its lead to two in the third inning. After doubling down the right field line, Cotier scored off a Rivoli single to center field. Despite the low-scoring matchup, with a mere nine hits between the two teams, the Cavaliers found more success on offense. Through nine innings Virginia managed to leave just three runners on base while Florida State allowed a whopping 11 runners stranded.

The Seminoles added late-game pressure in the bottom of the seventh. Graduate student Paul Kosanovich relieved Vasil after a single up the middle, but with one out, Kosanovich walked the next two batters to load the bases. Replacing Kosanovich, senior right-hander Blake Bales retired the next batter with a strikeout, but subsequently gave up a bases-loaded walk to cut the Cavalier lead in half. 

Graduate right-hander Stephen Schoch closed out the game for Virginia, allowing just a single hit in the bottom of the ninth and striking out five to secure the victory for the Cavaliers. Schoch narrowly worked through a nail-biting eighth inning after loading the bases with no outs — but struck out two batters and forced an out at home to escape the inning unscathed. 

Virginia returns to action Tuesday afternoon against Richmond, taking on the Spiders at Disharoon Park. Game time is set for 3 p.m. and will be broadcast on the ACC Network.