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#15 Virginia completed a series sweep of the reeling Louisville Cardinals with an 8-3 win on a beautiful Mother's Day afternoon in Charlottesville. The win puts UVA at 16-11 in conference play and moves them into a share of the ACC Coastal division lead with #11 Miami. Louisville falls to 9-18 in the ACC and sits 2 games behind 10-15 NC State for the final spot in the ACC Tournament. Before the game, Virginia recognized its seniors and graduate students in a touching ceremony that included the likes of weekend starters Nick Parker and Brian Edgington. With this win in their final home game of the regular season, Virginia completed an impressive 32-4 home record.
After going a combined 0-14 in last night's 4-1 victory over Louisville, #15 Virginia's 1-4 hitters got the scoring started right away as Griff O'Ferrall and Ethan O'Donnell singled ahead of Jake Gelof. UVA's RBI leader then drilled a line drive to left, that could've gone for extra bases had Louisville left fielder JT Benson not made a running catch to prevent multiple runs. As it turned out, Gelof had to settle for just a single RBI, as the sacrifice fly allowed O'Ferrall to score from third. Kyle Teel then stroked a line drive double into the left field gap to score O'Donnell from second. Casey Saucke would add an RBI single later in the inning to make it 3-0 Virginia after just 1 inning.
The hot start for Virginia continued in the 2nd inning, with the suddenly red hot Colin Tuft leading off with a single. It was Tuft's fifth hit of the series in just six plate appearances. He would come around to score on a Teel sacrifice fly, after Louisville starter Carson Liggett intentionally walked Gelof to load the bases with one out.
Teel, whose two early RBIs really got UVA going, was coming off a game Saturday night where he went 0-4 with 4 strikeouts. When asked what adjustments he made between the two games, the third year catcher said "I got a good night's sleep. And threw it out. Baseball's a hard game. Sometimes it's an easy game. You just have to take it day by day, pitch by pitch, that's it."
Teel went 3-3 with 2 RBIs and reached base safely 4 times. His surprise bunt single was integral to Virginia adding 2 more runs in the 6th to make it 8-0. "I just had a feeling and I saw he (third baseman) was playing back," Teel said about the bunt. "I saw the opportunity and I took it."
Liggett had been Louisville's best and most consistent starting pitcher this season, and he was coming into this game with a 7-0 record and a 2.31 ERA over 12 starts. But, Virginia jumped on the right hander early, and Liggett was never able to get in a rhythm, taking his first loss of the year while giving up a season high 6 earned runs over just 3.1 innings pitched.
Like Parker and Connelly Early before him, graduate transfer Brian Edgington dazzled for the Hoos in a starting role this weekend. It had been a rough 4 weeks for the former Elon ace, as he'd been roughed up in his last three ACC starts following a fantastic start to the season. He was back in form on Sunday afternoon, however, striking out 8 and allowing just 2 Louisville baserunners over 6 scoreless innings.
"Edgington's splitter worked really well for him. He got some early outs on 0-0 counts," Coach Brian O'Connor said after the game. "That's the first time in four weeks he's executed that pitch down in the strike zone. He's been leaving it up, and that's what's given him problems in the last three series. He found a fix and made an adjustment." Getting Edgington and his splitter back to form is critical for UVA moving forward towards the postseason.
Despite his dazzling performance and only throwing 77 pitches, Coach Brian O'Connor opted to lift Edginton after the sixth inning in favor of first year lefty Evan Blanco. Against the Virginia bullpen, Louisville finally came to life, as Eddie King Jr. hit only their third extra base hit of the series, a double to right center scoring Jack Payton and Ryan McCoy. Cardinals second baseman Logan Beard would drive in a third run moments later with a 6-3 ground out, cutting the Virginia lead to 8-3 at the 7th inning stretch. The usual Sunday starter, Jack O'Connor, made his second relief appearance of the season in the 8th and threw a shutout inning to bridge the gap to closer Jay Woolfolk in the 9th inning.
King Jr. and Payton led the way for the Cardinals, each collecting a pair of hits in four ABs. Virginia concludes its season next weekend in Atlanta against Georgia Tech, while Louisville will face Northern Kentucky on Tuesday before a critical three-game set at home versus ACC basement dweller Florida State.