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No. 19 Virginia baseball defeats Rider in midweek series

The Cavaliers outscored the Broncs by 19 runs over the two games

<p>The Cavaliers' high-flying offense combined for 26 runs in two games against Rider.</p>

The Cavaliers' high-flying offense combined for 26 runs in two games against Rider.

No. 19 Virginia baseball continued its strong start to the season with two wins in a midweek series against Rider. The Cavaliers (16-1, 2-1 ACC) rebounded from their first loss of the season last Sunday by defeating the Broncs (6-9) 14-4 on Tuesday and 12-3 on Wednesday at Disharoon Park in Charlottesville. Virginia is 11-0 at home this season, with an overall home winning streak of 14 games dating back to last season.

Over the two games, the Cavaliers homered seven times to establish dominant leads. Freshman left hander Matthew Buchanan was credited for the win in the first game of the series, retiring nine of the 10 batters he faced. The Cavaliers’ bullpen led the way in the second game, shutting out Rider for the final five innings of the game following a hot offensive start.

Game 1 - Virginia 14, Rider 4

A scoreless two-and-a-half innings in the first game of the series was decisively broken by a grand slam from sophomore catcher Kyle Teel in the bottom of the third to give Virginia a 4-0 lead. Teel’s grand slam was his second of the season and the third of his career. Teel finished the game 3-for-5, adding a double and triple and totaling five RBIs. 

The Cavaliers continued the offensive attack, scoring five runs in the fourth inning to stretch the lead to 9-0. Junior center fielder Chris Newell and freshman right fielder Casey Saucke opened the inning with back-to-back solo home runs. An RBI triple and two RBI singles brought home three more runs for Virginia to cement a 9 run advantage over Rider. 

The Broncs got on the board in the top of the fifth, but could not generate enough offense to mount a comeback. The final score for the first game of the series ended 14-4 in favor of the Cavaliers. Sophomore right hander Avery Mabe earned a save in his collegiate debut for Virginia, pitching the final 3.1 innings.

“I just thought our guys responded really well after a long day and first loss of the season on Sunday night [at Duke],” Coach Brian O’Connor said.

Game 2 - Virginia 12, Rider 3

After a back and forth start to the second game, the Cavaliers pulled away in the fourth led by both strong hitting and a solid bullpen. Virginia opened the scoring with a two-out RBI double by sophomore first baseman Jake Gelof in the first. Rider answered with a two-run shot by junior right fielder Brendan O’Donnell to take a 2-1 lead in the game, the Broncos’ first lead of the series. 

The Cavaliers then posted three runs in the bottom of the second to retake the lead and added to the lead in the third to bring the score to 5-2. Freshman second baseman Tristan Shoemaker hit the go-ahead RBI single in his first collegiate start for Virginia. The Broncs got a run back in the top of the fourth, but home runs from graduate student left fielder Alex Tappen and Saucke put the Cavaliers in front 9-3. 

Four Virginia relievers held Rider scoreless for the final five innings and the Cavaliers tacked on three more runs to end the game with a score of 12-3. Sophomore left-hander Jake Berry was credited with the win, his second of the season, striking out four batters in 2.2 innings.

“I just thought there were a number of guys in the lineup that really had fantastic approaches today and it’s a collection of different guys every day. [Alex] Tappen was outstanding, him and Casey Saucke,” Coach O’Connor said. “We’re getting a collection of contributions from a lot of different guys and it’s allowed us to create some depth and play some different infielders and guys in different situations.”

Virginia returns to action at Disharoon Park this weekend against Boston College for a three-game conference series. First pitch was 4 p.m. for Friday’s opener and 4 p.m. for both Saturday and Sunday.