Home Live Coverage: UNC walks off UVA, winning 3-2, in 2024 College World Series opener

Live Coverage: UNC walks off UVA, winning 3-2, in 2024 College World Series opener

Chris Graham
college world series
(© Lost_in_the_Midwest – Shutterstock)

UVA (46-15), the #12 national seed, faces North Carolina (47-14), the #4 national seed, in the opening game of the 2024 College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha.

Virginia is going with Evan Blanco (8-3, 3.69 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 95Ks/25BBs in 92.2 IP), the #1 starter for the past two months. North Carolina is going with its #1 guy, Jason DeCaro (6-1, 3.89 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 72Ks/40BBs in 85.2 IP).

Quick UNC overview

Key bullpen arms

  • Lefty closer Dalton Pence (4-1, 8 saves, 2.04 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 71Ks/27BBs in 53.0 IP).
  • Righty Matthew Matthijs (12-4, 3.65 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 55Ks/16BBs in 56.2 IP).
  • Righty Ben Peterson (3-2, 4.97 ERA, 1.66 WHIP, 28Ks/19BBs in 29.0 IP).
  • Righty Matt Poston (5-2, 5.25 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 50Ks/17BBs in 36.0 IP).

Key hitters

  • Junior centerfielder Vance Honeycutt (.314 BA/1.111 OPS, 26 HRs, 65 RBIs, 28 steals).
  • First baseman Parks Harber (.341 BA/1.076 OPS, 20 HRs, 63 RBIs)
  • Leftfielder Casey Cook (.339 BA/1.041 OPS, 18 HRs, 76 RBIs)
  • Rightfielder Anthony Donofrio (.338 BA/1.016 OPS, 7 HRs, 52 RBIs, 19 steals)
  • Third baseman Gavin Gallaher (.337 BA/.944 OPS, 8 HRs, 38 RBIs)
  • DH Alberto Osuna (.285 BA/.925 OPS, 14 HRs, 56 RBIs)
  • Catcher Luke Stevenson (.283 BA/.966 OPS, 14 HRs, 58 RBIs)

Quick UVA overview

Key bullpen arms

  • Righty Chase Hungate (7-1, 3.71 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 37Ks/13BBs in 51.0 IP).
  • Lefty Angelo Tonas (3-0, 3.96 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 29Ks/10BBs in 36.1 IP).
  • Righty Matt Augustin (2-0, 4.28 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 25Ks/13BBs in 27.1 IP).

Key hitters

  • Second baseman Henry Godbout (.370 BA/1.123 OPS, 9 HRs, 46 RBIs)
  • Catcher Jacob Ference (.354 BA/1.187 OPS, 17 HRs, 43 RBIs, 11 steals)
  • Rightfielder Casey Saucke (.343 BA/.985 OPS, 14 HRs, 64 RBIs)
  • First baseman Henry Ford (.339 BA/1.021 OPS, 17 HRs, 68 RBIs)
  • Shortstop Griff O’Ferrall (.332 BA/.838 OPS, 5 HRs, 51 RBIs, 17 steals)
  • DH Ethan Anderson (.333 BA/.955 OPS, 8 HRs, 40 RBIs)
  • Leftfielder Harrison Didawick (.297 BA/1.077 OPS, 23 HRs, 68 RBIs, 14 steals)

Pregame observations

  • Last year, I was the UVA media contingent. This year, I’m not alone – the Cavalier Daily, Daily Progress, The Sabre and one of the Charlottesville TV stations is here.
  • Lots of fans from schools who aren’t here: there’s a LSU fan tailgate in the main parking lot, and I saw folks wearing LSU, UConn (?) and (of course) Nebraska gear walking around on the concourse.
  • Weather forecast: high: 92, real-feel high: 97, winds expected to be light: 6-8 mph, gusting to 17 mph

First inning

UVA loaded the bases on a hit batter (O’Ferrall) and two walks (Saucke, Ference). Didawick worked the count to 3-1, swung and missed a 94-mph fastball for strike two, fouled off a 93-mph fastball, then swung and missed a 93-mph fastball to end the inning.

The good thing for UVA there: Decaro had to throw 30 pitches to get out of the inning.

Mid-1: no score.

North Carolina gets on the board first on an RBI groundout by Donofrio. A pair of one-out hits – a single from Cook, a soft-line-drive double from Harber – put runners on second and third.

Good job by Blanco to limit the damage.

End 1: UNC 1, UVA 0

Second inning

Nothing doing: UVA goes down in order, rather meekly, to be blunt about it.

Mid-2: UNC 1, UVA 0

Blanco pitches around a leadoff single. Through two, he’s at 26 pitches.

Decaro through two: 42 pitches.

End 2: UNC 1, UVA 0

Third inning

One-out RBI single by Ford gets UVA on the board. Anderson singled with one out, and then Saucke hit a Texas League double to put runners on second and third.

Decaro struck out Ference and got Didawick to fly out to left to end it.

Mid-3: UNC 1, UVA 1

Blanco pitched around a one-out double to Cook and a pitcharound walk to Harber to get out of the third.

Blanco through three: 44 pitches.

Decaro through three: 60 pitches.

End 3: UNC 1, UVA 1

Fourth inning

Anderson grounded out to third with runners on first and second and two outs.

Mid-4: UNC 1, UVA 1

Blanco pitched around a leadoff single to Stevenson, who is 2-for-2 today.

End 4: UNC 1, UVA 1

Fifth inning

A leadoff walk to Saucke ends the day for Decaro, who to this point is responsible for one run on four hits, with four walks and a hit batter, and six strikeouts, on 89 pitches, 52 for strikes.

In for UNC: Poston.

Poston got Ford and Ference on fly balls and Didawick on a grounder to first to end the inning.

Close the book on Decaro.

Mid-5: UNC 1, UVA 1

Blanco pitched around a two-out walk to Harber. Nice (great) play by Ford on a Honeycutt bunt leading off the inning, fielding the bunt to his right, then tagging a sliding Honeycutt at the bag.

End 5: UNC 1, UVA 1

Sixth inning

O’Ferrall drove home a run with a sac fly to deep right-center, following a leadoff walk to Godbout and a double into the leftfield corner off the bat of Eric Becker.

UVA leads 2-1.

Pence, the closer, now in for UNC.

Anderson grounded out on the first pitch to end the half-inning.

Mid-6: UVA 2, UNC 1

Nothing doing for UNC in its half of the sixth.

Blanco through six: one run, five hits, four strikeouts, two walks, 80 pitches, 53 for strikes.

Seventh inning

Ference worked a two-out HBP, such as that can be worked, then stole second (his 12th steal of the season), but Didawick struck out on a 3-2 slider out of the zone to end the half-inning.

Stretch time: UVA 2, UNC 1

Two-out RBI single by Cook, who is now 3-for-4, chases Blanco.

Hungate coming in from the pen.

Blanco’s line (with the runner on second his responsibility): two runs, seven hits, four Ks, two walks in six and two-thirds innings, on 94 pitches, 64 for strikes.

Hungate got Harber to ground out to short to end the half-inning.

Close the book on Blanco.

New ballgame: 2-2 at the end of seven.

Eighth inning

UVA goes down in order in the top of the eighth.

Mid-8: UNC 2, UVA 2

Aiden Teel in the game in left for Didawick. Interesting move there.

Hungate sets the side down in order.

End 8: UNC 2, UVA 2

Ninth inning

UVA goes down 1-2-3 in the ninth.

This doesn’t feel like it’s going to turn out our way.

Mid-9: UNC 2, UVA 2

Pinch-hitter Jackson Van De Brake doubled down the rightfield line to lead off the bottom of the ninth. Madera dropped a sac bunt to advance Van De Brake to third, so, runner there with one down.

Wilkerson popped up for out number two, bringing up Honeycutt.

O’Connor, for some good reason to him, pitched to Honeycutt, who made him pay for it, lining a 2-1 slider to left for the walk-off.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham, the king of "fringe media," 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].

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