Virginia’s 50th win of the season was a thing of beauty.
First, it punched the Cavaliers ticket to their sixth College World Series in program history.
Second, it came at the expense of conference rival Duke.
Virginia fans enjoy whipping Duke in any sport.
Brian Edgington pitched a complete game as Virginia blasted the Blue Devils 12-2 in Sunday’s winner-goes-to Omaha, loser-goes-home finale in the Charlottesville Super Regional.
Edgington, an Elon transfer, went the distance on the hill for Virginia (50-13) and struck out a season-high 11 hitters.
Edgington got an early boost as UVA scored five runs in the second inning to again set the tone and provide Edington a confidence builder.
Duke (39-24), on the other hand, had a revolving door on its bullpen, using nine pitchers for the afternoon.
The Blue Devils had some opportunities at the dish, but simply failed to capitalize with runners on base.
Virginia finds itself back in Omaha for the second time in three years. Duke was trying to reach the CWS for the first time since 1961.
Early power surge again fuels UVA offense
The Cavs started Sunday’s game with a leadoff double, followed by a walk, in each of their first two innings. That was enough to begin the Duke pitching carousel. While Virginia failed to score in the first, the ‘Hoos put a big, crooked number on the board in the second, scoring five times.
Harrison Didawick’s single plated the first run of the inning. Leadoff hitter Griff O’Ferrall followed with a grounder over second, just past the diving shortstop Alex Mooney. The hit scored Anthony Stephan from third.
Ethan O’Donnell added a third-straight RBI single, making it 3-0, bringing up red-hot hitting Jake Gelof.
Gelof induced a walk to load the bases with one out for Kyle Teel, who ripped a 2-2 fastball to right, scoring two more runs and stake Edgington to the 5-0 margin.
Duke responds, but Virginia answers
As in Saturday’s contest, Duke countered Virginia’s early lead with a brief rally. In the sixth inning today, the Blue Devils got on the scoreboard when Jay Beshears lofted a fly ball to left field that cleared the wall by thismuch. The homer made it a 5-2 game.
Virginia answered immediately, scoring four times in the bottom of the inning to make it 9-2, and the rout was on.
Duke was simply overpowered
The Blue Devils embraced a workman-line mentality this season. After upsetting Coastal Carolina in the Conway Regional, Duke headed to the Charlottesville Super Regional. After a dramatic 5-4 win in Game 1 on Friday, the clock struck midnight for the Blue Devils.
Virginia blasted Duke both Saturday and Sunday, outscoring the Blue Devils 26-6. The Cavaliers recorded 36 hits while belting six round-trippers.
Designated hitter Anthony Stephan provided Virginia with some newfound power, blasting two homers totaling about 800 total feet.
O’Connor’s legend continues to grow
Virginia’s six CWS appearances and its 2015 national championship have all come under the guidance of Brian O’Connor.
Since taking over the program in 2004, coming from Notre Dame, O’Connor immediately made the Virginia baseball program relevant, hosting a regional in his first season at the helm. It was the first time in program history that Virginia had hosted a regional.
Under O’Connor, the Cavaliers have missed only two NCAA tournaments, winning a pair of ACC regular-season titles and two ACC Tournament titles.
Steady pipeline to the Major Leagues
How fitting that on the very weekend UVA clinched its sixth CWS trip, two former Cavalier pitchers took the mound in the Major Leagues.
Daniel Lynch (2018) was the starter Friday night for the Kansas City Royals against Baltimore. Andrew Abbott (2021) got his second start for Cincinnati threw Saturday and had his second straight scoreless outing.
Home-field advantage, you bet
Tickets for the Super Regional sold out in a mere few hours. Saturday’s attendance of 5,919 was the record crowd in program history. A growing Virginia fan base was on full display for the three-game set.
Virginia’s average attendance for the regional was close to 5,900.
After the win, Virginia players did a victory lap around the field, reaching out to embrace the thousands of fans that remained in the stadium to celebrate with the Hoos’
Virginia will open play in Omaha with No. 2 Florida. The Gators (50-15) swept No. 15 South Carolina, 5-4 and 4-0, in the Gainesville Super Regional. Florida last participated in the CWS in 2018, and this season is the Gators’ 13th overall CWS appearance.