When the Charlottesville Regional pairings were announced baseball fans had the matchup between Virginia and East Carolina circled as one to watch and the game did not disappoint. After shutting down the Pirates in last year’s Greenville Regional pitching for Coastal Carolina, Nick Parker was looking to do the same this year. He was was terrific on the day going seven strong, giving up one run on five hits, one walk and five strikeouts to pick up the win. There weren’t many fireworks from the offense, but the Hoos came up big hits when they needed to move to 2-0 in the regional and in prime position.
Virginia got on the board first in the bottom of the third when Jake Gelof scored from second on an RBI single by Kyle Teel. Gelof appeared to have himself a home run (which would have set a new single season HR record at Virginia) but ECU’s Lane Hoover was able to reach over the fence and pull the ball back into play limiting Gelof to just a double. Still, thanks to Teel’s single, the Hoos were able to get that 1-0 lead.
East Carolina looked to get the run back in the top of the fifth. After retiring twelve batters in a row, Parker surrendered a single to right field to the Pirates’ Joey Berini. After a balk by Parker moved Berini to second, Alec Macarewicz hit a shot up the middle that Parker wasn’t able to handle setting up first and third with two outs. But Parker was able to get Hoover looking on a 1-2 fastball to end the threat.
After the Cavaliers weren’t able to capitalize on runners at first and second in the bottom of the fifth, the Pirates were able tie the game at one thanks to mistake by the Cavaliers middle infield. With runners on first and second and two outs, Riley Johnson came up with a single to right field. The throw from the outfield was cutoff by Virginia’s Ethan Anderson, Carter Cunningham stopped while rounding third, but Cam Clonch was hung out between second and third and caught in a rundown. As Anderson threw to second, Cunningham took off and instead of throwing home, Griff O’Ferrall threw to Gelof at third allowing Cunningham to score.
But the Hoos got the lead back in the bottom of the seventh when Anderson drove in Ethan O’Donnell on a single to right. O’Donnell got to third after walking to start the inning. He stole second when Gelof struck out and moved to third on a ball off the end of the bat by Teel. Casey Saucke kept the threat going on a single to right but the Pirates got out of the inning when ECU’s Carter Spivey got Stephan Anderson to fly out to center.
Entering the eighth Coach Brian O’Connor opted to relieve Parker with Jake Berry. Berry took over and did his job tossing a perfect eighth inning with two strikeouts. Entering the ninth, clinging to a 2-1 lead Virginia stuck with Berry looking for the two-inning save. The big lefty was awesome setting down the Pirates in order preserving the victory and sending Virginia to the Regional Final
ECU will face Oklahoma in an elimination game on Sunday with the Hoos awaiting the winner in the night cap. First pitch in the elimination game is at noon while the Regional final will be at 6 p.m. Both games can be seen on ESPN+