UVa baseball is still trying to find their identity. After two disappointing weekends and a weekday 1-0 loss to Georgetown, all hope look like it might be lost. Fortunately, UVa traveled to Notre Dame this weekend and did what most of us had hoped they'd do every game: win.
Nathan Kirby proved yet again why he's a prospective 1st round draft pick on Friday by holding Notre Dame scoreless on five hits and two walks over six innings while striking out eight. Kevin Doherty relieved Kirby in the 7th and took the Cavaliers the rest of the way giving up only a run on one hit. At the plate, UVa had one of their better offensive performances registering 13 hits for nine runs. Kenny Towns and Matt Thaiss lead the way with three RBI a piece and two hits. Second year shortstop Daniel Pinero chipped in as well with three hits and four runs scored leading UVa to the 9-1 victory.
While the afternoon affair was a bit closer, the 4-2 victory would give UVa their first series victory since Pitt and a sweep of the Saturday slate. Connor Jones held Notre Dame at bay, surrendering only two runs and striking out nine over 7.2 innings. He was relieved in the 8th by first year Tommy Doyle who got the final out of the 8th and the win thanks to the 9th inning heroics. Back to back two out hits from first years Christian Lowry and Adam Haseley scored two runs in the 9th to give UVa the lead. Josh Sborz came on in the bottom half to close it out for his 6th save of the season.
Like the first game on Saturday, the Sunday tilt saw UVa lead from start to finish. First years Haseley and Pavin Smith paced the offense with three hits and lead them to the five runs necessary. Brandon Waddell was good on the mound limiting Notre Dame to just two runs over 5.1 innings. The story of the rotation was likely Alec Bettinger who held the Irish to just a run over 2.2 innings before turning it over to Josh Sborz in the 9th. Although he gave up a home run to begin the 9th (his 6th given up of the season), Sborz settled down to closer out Notre Dame and assure the 5-4 victory and series sweep.
The series sweep will obviously do wonders for the psyche of the young roster, but will also significantly improve UVa's standings in the conference. After this weekend, the Hoos will be tied for third in the Coastal with UNC, behind Miami and Virginia Tech.
The boys will play at the Diamond against VCU on Tuesday before hosting VMI on Wednesday. Two more wins will setup a showdown next weekend against the ACC leading Louisville Cardinals.