Following an offensive explosion in a Tuesday night victory against VCU, No. 8 Virginia traveled to South Bend, Ind. to take on Notre Dame. The Cavaliers (32-7, 12-7 ACC) were hoping to avoid back-to-back weekend series losses as were the Fighting Irish (21-15, 9-10 ACC). Ultimately Virginia’s struggles continued, particularly on the pitching side with Notre Dame scoring 25 runs across three games.
Game 1 – Virginia 7, Notre Dame 10
Graduate student pitcher Brian Edgington was hoping to rebound following his outing against Pittsburgh last weekend in which he gave up five runs in just over four innings. Unfortunately for Edgington and the Cavaliers, the struggles continued Friday evening in the series opener.
The Virginia offense started off the game with a bang. Junior infielder Jake Gelof picked up his 68th RBI of the season when he grounded out to second base to score sophomore infielder Griff O’Ferrall from third.
Edgington returned to the mound hoping to maintain the lead. However, the Fighting Irish broke through with their first run of the night when sophomore infielder Jack Penney took Edgington deep for his eighth home run of the season. While Edgington had given up just three home runs combined prior to Friday night’s outing, he would allow two more in this performance, doubling his season total.
The Cavaliers responded strongly in the fourth inning when they scored four runs in the top half of the frame. O’Ferrall capped off the inning’s scoring by recording his third hit in as many plate appearances.
Notre Dame exploded offensively starting in the bottom half of the fourth inning and proceeded to score nine runs over the next five frames. This was highlighted by freshman infielder Estevan Moreno who finished the night with an astonishing three home runs.
Junior outfielder Ethan O’Donnell closed the gap in the ninth by hitting his ninth home run of the season, but ultimately it was not enough and Virginia fell behind in the series. Edgington took the loss, pitching five innings, giving up six runs on seven hits, with two walks and one strikeout
Game 2 – Virginia 2, Notre Dame 10
Following a weather-induced postponement of Saturday night’s contest, Virginia prepared for a doubleheader Sunday afternoon to close out the series. Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, the Fighting Irish matched their impressive Friday night offensive production, scoring 10 more runs.
Freshman pitcher Jack O’Connor got the starting nod for Virginia on the mound and was hoping to further improve upon his impressive 3.65 ERA. Quickly, however, he was met with resistance and only managed to pitch through the fourth inning, his second-shortest outing of the season.
Notre Dame continued to hit home runs Sunday, jumping out to an early lead following solo home runs from graduate student infielder Carter Putz in the first inning and Penney in the fourth.
The Cavaliers stayed in the game early and responded with a home run of their own in the sixth inning. Sophomore infielder Anthony Stephan pulled a two-strike breaking ball over the right field wall to close the gap to two. After going 72 at-bats without a home run across his first two seasons, Stephan has now homered in back-to-back weekend series.
That was all the offensive production Virginia was able to muster in the first game of the afternoon as Fighting Irish graduate student pitcher Blake Hely threw a season-high 7.1 innings, allowing just two runs to score. Notre Dame would hit two more home runs on their way to clinching the series win.
O’Connor took the loss, throwing four innings, giving up four runs on 10 hits, walking one and striking out six.
Game 3 – Virginia 4, Notre Dame 5
The Cavaliers were hoping to avoid their first sweep of the season in game two of the doubleheader but lost two leads on their way to picking up their ninth loss of the season.
The game started on a positive note for Virginia when freshman outfielder Harrison Didawick performed a successful squeeze bunt to score sophomore utility player Ethan Anderson and give the Cavaliers the early lead. Didawick has been key to Virginia’s game of small ball this season as he now has a team-best six sacrifice hits this season.
Graduate student pitcher Nick Parker pitched well through his 4.2 innings of work, striking out five batters and walking none. His defense did not help him out as only one of the four runs he gave up was earned. The Cavaliers committed four errors throughout the course of the game, the most they have committed since last season.
Following an RBI single from Putz in the third inning that put the Fighting Irish in front, Cavalier sophomore outfielder Casey Saucke continued his five-game hitting streak by smacking an opposite-field home run over the right field wall. Junior catcher Kyle Teel followed the next inning with an RBI double to extend the Virginia lead to 4-2.
The Cavaliers could not hold this lead either as in the bottom of the fifth, the Fighting Irish scored three unearned runs. Although junior pitcher Jake Berry finished the game strong on the mound with seven strikeouts in just over three innings, the Virginia offense went cold as they lost the game 5-4.
After falling in the most recent rankings, the Cavaliers are sure to drop again following a sweep at the hands of an unranked team. Road games have plagued Virginia this season as they have a record of just 8-7 away from Disharoon Park. If the Cavaliers hope to compete in the postseason they will have to improve upon their performances away from home, specifically hoping the pitching steps up to keep the potent offense within striking distance.
Virginia will return home Tuesday night to take on Liberty at 6 p.m. The game will be broadcasted on ACCNX.