Photo Courtesy of UVA Baseball
The 2023 Virginia Cavaliers have become only the third NCAA Division 1 baseball team in the past 20 years to post a perfect non-conference season record, joining 2015 Texas A&M and 2010 Arizona State, following their 8-0 win over the Radford Highlanders on Wednesday afternoon. Both Texas A&M and Arizona State made it to the Super Regionals in their undefeated years, with the Sun Devils also reaching Omaha. With today's win, Virginia finishes their non-conference regular season schedule at 25-0.
Ethan Anderson got the scoring started for Virginia with a solo blast over the right field fence in the bottom of the second inning. Jake Gelof would add to his school career home run record an inning later with a 2-run blast to make it 3-0. In the 4th, Gelof would add his 3rd RBI of the game and 76th of the season. The Cavs' third baseman finished 3-3 with two walks and 3 RBIs. Anderson, Anthony Stephan, and Griff O'Ferrall combined to drive in four UVA runs, while the last run was scored on a Radford error.
Connelly Early made his 12th start of the year for Virginia but was replaced early in the second inning, after throwing just 20 pitches and facing four batters. It appeared to be part of the plan, as Coach Brian O’Connor then called on the usual Sunday starter Jack O’Connor to relieve Early. The first-year pitcher threw 3 innings of shutout baseball while striking out 5. In addition to O'Connor, fellow weekend starter Brian Edgington pitched an inning of relief, after Virginia was off this past weekend and prepares for a monster series against Louisville starting on Friday. Closer Jay Woolfolk clinched the shutout for Virginia with a clean 1-2-3 ninth inning.
Radford's best chance to score came in the top of the 7th, when they loaded the bases against first-year pitcher Bradley Hodges, following a Griff O'Ferrall error with two outs. Hodges fell behind 3-1 to Radford shortstop Avery Spencer, and looked to be in danger of walking home a run, when he got back-to-back strikes and caught Spencer looking to end the inning.
The ‘Hoos last non-conference regular season loss was a 9-7 extra-inning loss on April 19, 2022, to Virginia Commonwealth in Richmond. Since then, UVA has won 29-straight regular season non-conference games. While impressive, it should be noted that not a single one of those games was against a ranked opponent. Liberty, Old Dominion, and VCU are all having down seasons when compared to recent years past, which may have contributed to UVA’s non-conference success in 2023. With the ‘Hoos struggling in the ACC recently, these midweek wins have been crucial to keeping the team’s morale up. Perhaps this latest victory can propel Virginia to a strong ACC finish heading into the postseason.
Virginia will host Louisville in a three-game ACC series this week starting on Friday in Charlottesville.