In midweek games on back-to-back nights, the Virginia Cavaliers produced mixed results. The ‘Hoos took down the Longwood Lancers, 6-0 on Tuesday, but fell to the Virginia Commonwealth Rams 11-3 on Wednesday night. The Cavaliers churned out much needed solid pitching and batting performances against Longwood and appeared to be righting the ship but turned in an all too familiar performance against VCU.
Tuesday night against Longwood was, “not really a beautiful day for baseball,” according to a local journalist, nevertheless they played the game that Virginia couldn’t “afford to lose” (according to that very same journalist). The Cavaliers didn’t disappoint either, jumping out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning, thanks in large part to slippery baseballs and suspect fielding by the Lancers. Virginia added three more in the third and one more in the eighth to make the score 6-0, putting Longwood out of reach.
However, the story of the night wasn’t the Cavalier bats.
Coming into the game, Virginia freshman pitcher Grant Donahue had appeared as a relief pitcher in only five games, where he worked 5.0 innings while allowing four earned runs. On a rainy Tuesday night, “unfit for baseball,” Donahue doubled his total innings, total strikeouts (from 4 to 8), and earned his first mark in the win column. Over his five innings, Donahue worked efficiently, needing only 68 pitches to retire the 17 Longwood batters he faced. The first-time starter recorded strikeouts in each of his last four innings of work and allowed only one hit and one walk, each of which came in the fourth inning.
While Longwood isn’t what you would call a powerhouse this season, Donahue’s performance potentially adds more depth to a Virginia pitching staff begging for consistency.
Unfortunately, the Cavaliers couldn’t keep their winning ways alive in Richmond on Wednesday. From the start, Virginia looked sluggish and never put it together, falling to VCU 11-3.
With regular midweek starter Bobby Nicholson throwing 3.0 innings in relief during Tuesday’s win, this game shaped up to be a big test for the Cavalier bullpen. Freshman Griff McGarry took the mound in yet another rain delayed start, but was unable to solve the Rams’ lineup. A bases loaded hit batsman gave VCU its first run, and was followed up by a single and a UVA throwing error, putting the ‘Hoos down 3-0 early in the day.
Things wouldn’t get better for Virginia as VCU tacked on another four runs in the second inning, thanks in large part to hot VCU bats and poor defensive execution from UVA. A bases loaded fielding error by Alex Tappen allowed two runs to score. Blake Willet, the batter graced by the previous mishap, proceeded to score immediately on a wild pitch, making the score 7-0.
The lone bright spot of the day for Virginia’s hitters came in the top of the fourth when a bases loaded Cam Comer walk scored Andy Weber, which Charlie Cody followed up with a roped single to left, scoring Caleb Knight and Alex Tappen. That would be all the run production on the day for the ‘Hoos, as they were only able to manage six hits and left five runners on base.
VCU would go on to tally a run in the fifth and three more in the eighth to seal their thirteenth consecutive win to move to 16-8 on the season.
Virginia falls to 14-11 and has lost to VCU in three of their past six matchups.
The Cavaliers will travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers in an ACC tilt. The first game slated to start at 3pm on Friday.