Virginia defeats East Carolina, 8-3, punches ticket to Super Regionals

Virginia defeats East Carolina, 8-3, punches ticket to Super Regionals

Chris Graham
uva baseball ncaa
(© Todd Taulman –

Virginia got a pair of three-run blasts, from Ethan O’Donnell in the seventh and Anthony Stephan in the eighth, to rally from a 2-1 deficit to East Carolina and punch its ticket to the Super Regionals with an 8-3 win on Sunday.

The Cavaliers (48-12), the #7 national seed, will host the winner of a Monday game between #10 national seed Coastal Carolina and Duke next weekend at The Dish.

The late power surge broke open what had been another pitchers’ duel between UVA, the top seed in the Charlottesville Regional, and ECU, the regional’s #2 seed, which had advanced to the Super Regional round in each of the past three seasons.

Virginia had defeated ECU, 2-1, on Saturday night, with a lights-out outing from starting pitcher Nick Parker, and on Sunday, it was Connelly Early who was lights out, striking out 10 Pirates in six and a third innings.

But ECU (47-19) still led 2-1 heading in the seventh on the strength of solid pitching from its starter, Zach Root, who held UVA to a run on five hits in four and two/thirds, and reliever Landon Ginn, who got out of a jam in the fifth and put up a 1-2-3 sixth to keep the Pirates on top.

A one-out single from first-year Henry Godbout got things going in the Virginia seventh. Colin Tuft walked to put two on with one out, and elicited a mound visit from Cliff Godwin, which seemed to calm Ginn down.

Ginn, following the pep talk, struck out UVA leadoff man Griff O’Ferrall on three pitches for the second out.

That brought up O’Donnell, who went the other way on a first-pitch fastball, blasting it out of The Dish in left-center, the three-run bomb putting Virginia up, 4-2.

Reliever Evan Blanco pitched out of a two-on, one-out jam in the bottom half of the seventh to preserve the lead.

Kyle Teel led off the UVA eighth with a single, and was bunted to second by Ethan Anderson.

Godwin then decided to put Casey Saucke on with an intentional walk to create force plays at all three bases.

But Stephan made that point moot, ripping a first-pitch fastball from reliever Carter Spivey to the batter’s eye in center.

The ball cleared the yellow line and would eventually be scored an out-of-the-park homer, but Stephan ran it out just to make sure, sliding into the plate headfirst as if to add an exclamation point to the sequence.

That one made the score 7-2 ‘Hoos.

ECU would get a run back in the bottom of the eighth on a Justin Wilcoxen RBI single, and UVA reliever Angelo Tonas had to face Pirates leadoff man Jacob Starling with the bases loaded and two out, with Starling as the tying run at the plate.

Starling lifted a 1-0 fastball to the warning track in left, but Tuft reeled it in for the third out to preserve the 7-3 lead.

Teel tacked on some needed insurance in the top of the ninth with a towering solo shot to the batter’s eye in center.

Reliever Jake Berry, who had closed out last night’s win for the ‘Hoos, retired the Pirates in order in the bottom of the ninth to close out the regional.

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,