Home Virginia blasts Virginia Tech, 13-3, to clinch series, likely wrap up regional hosting spot

Virginia blasts Virginia Tech, 13-3, to clinch series, likely wrap up regional hosting spot

uva logo blue Joe Savino pitched out of a first-inning jam, and the UVA bats put on a power show, blasting six homers, two from catcher Ethan Anderson, in a 13-3 run-rule win over Virginia Tech on Friday.

Savino (2-1, 3.00 ERA) pitched into the sixth inning for the first time this season, in his sixth start back from an offseason injury that has forced him to steadily increase his workload on the mound.

In his five-plus innings on Friday, Savino gave up two runs on four hits on a season-high 83 pitches, 50 of them for strikes.

This is huge for Virginia coach Brian O’Connor, who has been working around issues with his starting rotation basically from the get-go, but now has back-to-back strong performances from his starters, Savino on Friday, and Evan Blanco, who pitched into the eighth inning in the 7-3 win over the Hokies on Thursday.

“That’s the best all year that we have gotten back-to-back, high-quality starts in elite play,” O’Connor said after the game. “That’s what you need at championship time. And that’s what we’re treating this series as, and everything moving forward.”

O’Connor’s Opening Day starter, Jack O’Connor, went down in March with a lat injury that ended his season, and Bradley Hodges, who had been projected in the fall to be the #1 starter, underwent Tommy John surgery in March.

Another expected weekend rotation guy, Jay Woolfolk, began the season as the #3 starter, but has pitched himself into the part of the bullpen used in blowouts since losing his rotation spot.

The offense, which is averaging 9.8 runs per game, is why this team is at 39-14 after Friday’s win, three games off the pace from the 2023 team that made it to the program’s sixth College World Series.

The series-clinching win on Friday seems to lock up a regional hosting weekend in two weeks, with just Saturday’s regular-season finale and next week’s ACC Tournament left before Selection Monday.

“You know, you look at what we’ve done this year, you know, sweeping through the tournament down in Jacksonville the second weekend, beating North Carolina and Wake both in a series, you know, these kids have earned that opportunity,” O’Connor said.

“I talked to the team about that this week, that you control what you can control, and that’s the games in front of you and playing good baseball, and then outside of that, it’s out of your hands,” O’Connor said. “It’s up to, candidly, what other teams do that are not playing in these games, and then a committee, you know, and we’re just focused on what’s in front of us, and that’s tomorrow’s game, and every opportunity we have strengthens our case for, you know, the NCAA Tournament time and, and we’ll let those decisions be made when they’re made, and all we can control is what we do on the field.

Virginia Tech (32-19, 14-15 ACC) got on the board first in Game 2, on a one-out RBI double from Gehrig Ebel.

With runners on second and third and one out, Savino induced pop-ups from Christian Martin and Carson DeMartini to limit the damage.

“Joe Savino was fantastic,” O’Connor said. “You know, there were a couple of things where they had some traffic, and he was able to manage it. And that’s why he’s a veteran, cagey pitcher, that just knows what he’s doing out there and executes his pitches.”

Harrison Didawick hit the first of Virginia’s six homers, a solo shot in the second, his 21st of the season, to knot the game at 1-1 through two.

UVA small-balled its way to a three-spot in the third, on a ground-ball RBI from Anderson, and back-to-back RBI singles from Henry Ford and Didawick, putting the ‘Hoos up 4-1.

The offense exploded for five runs in the fourth, on back-to-back-to-back homers from Eric Becker, Anderson and Casey Saucke.

Anderson, who had six RBIs on the day, added a two-run homer in the fifth, and Henry Godbout punched out a two-run shot in the sixth that brought the run rule into play.

Ryan Osinski worked around a leadoff walk in the seventh to close the game out from there.

Game 3 of the series is scheduled for a 5 p.m. first pitch. The game is set to be broadcast on the ACC Network.

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].