Home Georgia Tech pounds Evan Blanco, #9 Virginia, 13-2 in series opener on Friday night

Georgia Tech pounds Evan Blanco, #9 Virginia, 13-2 in series opener on Friday night

Chris Graham

uva logo blue As of not long ago, I was writing that #9 Virginia, in its quest to get back to the College World Series, would have to do so with just one reliable starting pitcher.

That one reliable starting pitcher, Evan Blanco, got smacked around in a 13-2 loss to Georgia Tech on Friday night at The Dish.

Blanco (4-2, 4.62 ERA) got touched up for six runs on seven hits and three walks in five innings of work in the loss.

The six runs came in a third-inning outburst from the Yellow Jackets (23-13, 8-8 ACC).

It took Blanco 26 pitches to get three outs in that six-run top of the third, and two of those were on sac bunts.

The other disappointing mound outing came from former weekend starter Cullen McKay (2-1, 7.96 ERA), who was charged with four runs on three hits and a walk in an inning and a third of mop-up duty, which came immediately after Virginia (29-10, 11-8 ACC) had scored two and left the bases loaded to get the margin down to 7-2.

McKay was consistently hitting 92-93 mph on the radar gun, but didn’t record a strikeout in the outing, in which just 16 of his 28 pitches went for strikes.

McKay was in the weekend rotation as recently as two weekends ago, but he’s been pitching out of the bullpen since giving coach Brian O’Connor just an inning in his April 4 start against North Carolina.

In the 14-11 win over UNC, McKay was charged with four runs on four walks, a hit batter and a single base hit.

Walks have been an issue for McKay, a sophomore from Norfolk: he has walked 24 hitters in 28.1 innings this season.

Walks have been an issue for the staff in general: UVA pitchers have walked 186 batters in 345.0 innings in 2024.

The 11.5 percent base-on-balls rate ranks 158th among the 305 teams in D1, according to D1Baseball.com.

The Virginia staff, in 2023, ranked 10th nationally with an 8.2 percent base-on-balls rate.

The 2023 staff walked 203 hitters in 573.1 innings.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].