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No. 5 Virginia baseball sweeps Florida State out of Charlottesville, stands at impressive 22-2 record

The Cavaliers have matched their best start in program history, tying with 2013 and 2022’s squads

<p>After a down-to-the-wire series opener, the Cavaliers pulled away in the second and third games.</p>

After a down-to-the-wire series opener, the Cavaliers pulled away in the second and third games.

No. 5 Virginia hosted Florida State for a three game series over the weekend. The Cavaliers (22-2, 7-2 ACC) swept the Seminoles (12-12, 3-6 ACC) for the first time in 10 years in an exciting series, outscoring Florida State 30-10 over the weekend. Virginia is still at the top of the Coastal Division standings after its third ACC series win.

Game 1 – Virginia 3, Florida State 2

In the first inning, graduate student pitcher Nick Parker was struck in the head by a Florida State line drive and would not return. He exited the game under his own power to a standing ovation. Sophomore reliever Chase Hungate then entered the game for his first career ACC action. He dominated, giving up two hits with no runs in five innings. 

Simultaneously, the Virginia offense struggled to convert hits into runs. In both of its two losses this year, failing to score with runners in scoring position was a problem. It appeared as if the Cavaliers were headed towards their third loss of the season when the Seminoles broke through with a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth inning —- but Virginia powered through adversity. 

In the bottom of the ninth, the Cavaliers suffered two quick outs. Freshman outfielder Harrison Didawick then faced a full count and fought for a walk. Sophomore infielder Griff O’Ferrall followed with an electric single to right field, where a Florida State throwing error allowed Didawick to advance to third base. Didawick then scored on a wild pitch as more than 3,000 fans at Disharoon Park erupted with cheers. 

In the 10th inning, sophomore reliever Jay Woolfolk struck out the second batter and then forced two ground balls to O’Ferrall who got the final two outs. Woolfolk picked up his second win of the season. 

Virginia faced yet another tough situation, as sophomore outfielder Casey Saucke came to the plate with two outs and only sophomore utility player Ethan Anderson on first base. Saucke singled, moving Anderson to second. With two outs and two runners on, graduate student outfielder Chris Baker called the game. 

Baker crushed a powerful shot to the Florida State shortstop, who could not field it cleanly. The ball rolled into the outfield as Anderson came sprinting home and the Virginia dugout rushed onto the field.  

Mustering just three runs on 11 hits was not ideal, but this Cavalier squad has shown time and time again that the game is not over until all three outs are made.

Game 2  – Virginia 12, Florida State 4

Virginia and Florida State played an exciting close game in the series opener, but the Cavaliers were simply at a different level for the rest of the series.

Graduate student pitcher Brian Edgington tossed five quality innings of one-run baseball, and freshman reliever Kevin Jaxel picked up his second win of the week by also allowing just one run. Junior reliever Jake Berry continued his strong year, retiring six Seminoles in two innings — allowing no hits and no walks. Edgington, Jaxel and Berry all have an ERA under 2.0. 

However, the Virginia offense stole the show putting up 12 runs despite hitting no home runs and only three doubles. The reason for the offensive success was nine singles, as seven Cavaliers registered a hit in the second game. 

Junior catcher Kyle Teel went 3-4 with a walk and scored two runs. Freshman infielder Henry Godbout also went 3-4 with a walk. Teel is hitting an incredible .452 batting average while Godbout is hitting .373 in just his first season of college baseball.

Virginia only led 4-3 until the seventh inning, where the Cavaliers would take complete command of the game. They would drop a six-run inning on Florida State, highlighted by outstanding plate discipline and baserunning. The Cavaliers earned five walks — aided by Saucke and freshman infielder Luke Hanson were both hit by pitches. The Seminoles also threw a wild pitch resulting in a Virginia run. Hanson sports an elite .609 on-base percentage in 23 plate appearances. 

Virginia only registered two hits in the seventh inning, but it took three pitchers for Florida State to complete the inning. Three singles and a wild pitch gave the Cavaliers two insurance runs in the eighth inning, and Virginia clinched the series. 10 Cavaliers scored a run in a strong offensive outing. 

“I think the energy was outstanding,” Coach Brian O’Connor said. “You could tell in our guys’ approach at the plate that they just weren’t going to be denied and they were going to come with their best.”

Game 3  – Virginia 15, Florida State 4

After a decent 1-4 day at the plate in the opening game, junior infielder Jake Gelof made a statement in the series finale. He put up a dominant performance in the final game, going 4-5 with four RBI — including a double and a home run, along with a walk. 

Gelof’s three RBI home run gave Virginia a 4-0 lead in the third inning with no outs. Teel followed Gelof with a walk, and an Anderson single gave the Cavaliers runners on second and third — without a single out. Sophomore infielder Anthony Stephan drove Teel and Anderson home with a single to right field — and Virginia was not done. The Cavaliers tacked on two more runs to complete an eight-run inning. The entire Virginia lineup got an at-bat, with four Cavaliers hitting twice in the same inning.

The Cavaliers left no doubt about the outcome of the third game early on, leading 9-0 after four innings. The Seminoles would score three runs total in the 5th and 6th innings, but Virginia responded with six runs total in the 6th and 7th innings to end the series.

Stephan had a perfect game, going 2-2 with three RBI and two walks. He also scored two runs. Stephan’s .647 on-base percentage in 34 plate appearances leads the team.

Freshman pitcher Jack O’Connor earned his second win of the season by surrendering just one run in five innings. Freshman reliever Evan Blanco threw a scoreless inning to bring his season ERA to just .93 — the lowest among Virginia pitchers with double-digit appearances.

The Cavaliers have sustained their hot start to the year. Out of the current D1 Baseball rankings, only No. 9 South Carolina (23-2, 6-0 SEC) has a better record than Virginia. The 2023 Cavalier squad is tough, full of depth and talented. 

An important road trip to Blacksburg awaits as Virginia travels to Virginia Tech for a weekend three-game series of the Commonwealth Clash.


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