No. 14 Virginia came into this weekend's series matchup against No. 23 N.C. State riding high off a 20-5 victory against George Washington Tuesday. The Cavaliers (17-2, 4-2 ACC) looked to continue their offensive surge and maintain their Coastal Division lead. The Wolfpack (15-5, 2-4 ACC) were hoping to rebound off a rough four-game stretch where they picked up just one win. Ultimately, Virginia won two of three games in Raleigh, N.C., taking care of business against a ranked opponent, though it dropped to second in the Coastal standings.
Game 1 – Virginia 2, N.C. State 1
Thursday night’s contest resulted in one of the Cavaliers’ closest games of the season, and one in which the offense came few and far between. The Virginia offense was outhit by N.C. State for the first time this season, mustering up just four hits while the Wolfpack doubled that number.
Despite garnering more hits, N.C. State struggled to put things together as graduate student pitcher Nick Parker stranded a runner in scoring position across each of the first four innings. Parker put together an outstanding performance, allowing a single run and striking out seven batters across five innings.
The Cavaliers’ two runs came unsurprisingly from junior infielder Jake Gelof and junior catcher Kyle Teel. Both drove in a run in the third inning on a groundout and base hit respectively. Although Virginia did not score for the rest of the night, they did not need to, as the Cavalier bullpen — led by junior pitcher Jake Berry — followed Parker with four scoreless innings to pick up the first win in the series.
Game 2 – Virginia 7, N.C. State 0
Virginia knew it could not rely on just four hits a game if it wanted to continue its success, and thus responded in a big way Friday afternoon. However, the offensive surge took place late in the game. Through eight innings, it was the pitching on both sides that was the headliner.
Graduate student pitcher Brian Edgington earned his fourth win of the season, pitching just over six innings and holding the Wolfpack scoreless. Despite an earlier run, the Cavalier offense really only sparked for the first time in the series in the top of the eighth when Teel pulled a no-doubter over the right field wall for his third home run of the season, and a two-run hit. Gelof also drove in a run in the eighth, hitting a double into short left field. This along with seven other doubles on the day, allowed the Cavaliers to pull ahead of N.C. State for the national lead in doubles with 55.
This win clinched the series for Virginia and their first one ever in Raleigh. Despite having played 13 road series against the Wolfpack since 1990, this weekend was the first the Cavaliers won.
Game 3 – Virginia 4, N.C. State 5
The series finale ended in heartbreaking fashion for Virginia after it gained the lead in the top of the ninth inning, only to lose it in the bottom half of the inning. The Cavaliers were trailing 2-1 heading into the ninth when Jake Gelof stepped to the plate with a runner on base. He crushed a ball to right field and proceeded to slam his bat in celebratory fashion before rounding the bases. This was Gelof’s 31st career home run, moving him into sole possession of fifth all-time for Virginia. He’s just two home runs shy of fourth place, which is a title Mike Lindner currently holds. The next batter was Teel who nailed an opposite-field home run to mark the first back-to-back home runs for the Cavaliers this season.
However, Berry could not hold the lead in the bottom of the inning as N.C. State accrued three runs on four hits including freshman catcher Cannon Peebles’ walk-off single. Berry offered a clutch performance in a close game situation Thursday, but was unable to replicate it Saturday earning the loss in 1.2 innings.
Although Virginia’s weekend ended on a sour note, it should not take away from their strong start to the season. The Cavaliers have won their first two road series against top-25 opponents for the first time since 2016. In addition, Gelof and Teel are fully living up to their potential as a lethal back-to-back combo early in the lineup.
The Cavaliers fell to second in the ACC Coastal division but will look to regain first in their midweek contests at home against High Point Tuesday and Georgetown Wednesday. Both games will be broadcast on ACCNX.