A solid midweek Charlottesville baseball crowd of 4,354 expected a tight battle in a rare in-state matchup of Top 25 teams, but Artie Lewicki and a potent UVa. offense took away any drama early.
Lewicki pitched seven one-hit, scoreless innings, and the Virginia offense had put up seven runs by the bottom of the fourth in an easy 8-2 win for the top-ranked Cavs over #22 Liberty on Wednesday at Davenport Field.
Lewicki (4-1) didn’t need all the offense, giving up a hit and a walk in seven innings of work, striking out six in an economical 86 pitches, 56 of which were strikes. The senior righty retired the last 11 batters that he faced.
His task was made easier by the early offensive onslaught. Virginia (38-9, 18-6 ACC) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second with a Kenny Towns RBI double and a Nate Irving RBI single.
The Cavs chased Liberty starter Jared Lyons (2-4) in the third before getting an RBI sacrifice fly by Branden Cogswell and a two-run single by Towns that pushed the lead to 5-0.
UVa. added another twospot in the fourth on an RBI fielders choice by Joe McCarthy and a double steal that allowed mike papi to score from third that made it 7-0 ‘Hoos.
The Flames (35-11, 19-1 Big South), which came into the game hitting .288 and scoring 6.1 runs per game, finally got on the board with a two-out, two-RBI triple by Nick Lacik off reliever Connor Jones, who has been struggling of late in his setup man role out of the Virginia bullpen.
Virginia added an insurance run in the eighth with a two-out RBI single by Papi.
Liberty had been 3-3 against ACC opponents in 2014 coming in, including a victory over then-#20 Clemson in April and a pair of wins against likely NCAA at-large team Duke earlier in the season.
Lyons, making his fifth mid-week start against an ACC opponent, had a rare off-night for the Flames, giving up five runs, all earned, on five hits in two and a third innings of work.
Virginia also touched up Liberty reliever Shawn Clowers, who had come into the game with a 7-0 record and 0.51 ERA in 15 relief appearances, for two runs, both earned, on two hits in an inning and a third of relief.
UVa. is back in action on Friday for the first of a three-game ACC home series with Georgia Tech. First pitch for the opener is at 6 p.m.