After going 3-1 in the first homestand of the year, the #16 Virginia Baseball team traveled to Chapel Hill to take on the #25 Tarheels (6-1,2-1 ACC).
Thursday afternoon the two ACC rivals held each other in check, combining for just 10 hits in the series opener. UVA starting pitcher Andrew Abbott, coming off an impressive start in the season opener, pitched seven innings for the Wahoos. While he allowed three runs, on two solo home runs and an RBI double in the first inning by center fielder Justice Thompson. Abbott still only allowed six hits and was able to strike out six Tarheel batters over his seven frames.
For the Tarheels, starter Austin Love kept the UVA bats silent for most of the game, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning. However, as he stepped onto the mound for the eighth frame, this is where he got into trouble. The Cavalier bats came alive, seemingly out of nowhere, getting back-to-back hits to lead off the inning from Brendan Rivoli and Logan Michaels. The two Virginia baserunners would score on RBI groundouts from Chris Newell and Max Cotier.
While the Cavaliers came close to tying up the contest in the ninth inning, a beautiful grab at the wall by Justice Thompson robbed Chris Newell of the game-tying home run, and the Cavaliers would lose the series opener, 3-2.
The middle game of the series was initially postponed Friday night, but was able to be played Saturday afternoon. Once again, both pitching staffs were able to hold their opponents in check. UVA starter Griff McGarry pitched five solid innings, striking out nine batters and surrendering two runs (one unearned). Relievers Blake Bales and Matt Wyatt combined to record the last two innings of the ball game, not allowing any runs.
On offense, the Cavaliers struggled to score runs for the second straight game. Max Cotier and Logan Michaels combined for four of UVA’s five total hits for the afternoon, with their sole run coming from Cotier’s RBI single in the fifth inning. While the Cavaliers had chances to tie the game with runners in scoring position in both the sixth and seventh innings, UNC reliever was able to escape both jams unscathed and earn the save in the 2-1 Tarheel win.
Going into Sunday’s series finale, the last five games between UVA and UNC had been decided by exactly one run. This streak will live on past this weekend, as the Cavaliers were able to avoid a series sweep and hand UNC their first loss of the season, with a 3-2 victory over the Tarheels. Mike Vassil would step on the mound for the Wahoos, trying to avoid losing their first ACC series of the season. After surrendering a hit to the first batter of the game, Vassil would go on to retire 11-straight Tarheels.
While Justice Thompson would end Vassil’s impressive streak, the Cavalier pitcher would still strike out five batters and not allow a single run in his six innings. With the start, Vassil became the only pitcher in the nation this season to pitch 12+ innings without surrendering a single earned run or walk.
Christian Hlinka would get the scoring started for the Hoos, with an RBI single in the fourth inning for his first hit of the season. Nic Kent would hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning to give the Cavalier bullpen extra insurance. While the UVA bullpen would give up two runs in the seventh inning, the back half of the bullpen was able to lock down and pitch a scoreless 8th and 9th innings, with Stephen Schoch earning his third save of the young campaign.
The Cavaliers will make a short pitstop to Davenport Field, with a Tuesday matchup against George Washington at 3pm. After the non-conference game, the Cavaliers will head back on the road for a three-game weekend series against Florida State (2-4,0-3 ACC).