They didn’t make them pay.
Maryland gave Virginia opportunities to run its record to 15-0 on Sunday. The Terrapins hit five batters, walked another six. In the early portion of this season, such wild pitching from the opposition was fuel for the UVa offense (see a 9-1 win over Saint Peter’s that featured six free passes).
But, for whatever reason, similar results didn’t come in a 4-2 loss.
“You’re not going to get those big hits all the time,” Cavalier skipper Brian O’Connor explained afterward. “We certainly have gotten those up until this point. We’ve made teams pay. We did it [Saturday]. We just didn’t do it today.”
Wednesday, they did.
The No. 12 Wahoos (15-1) started a new winning streak with a 7-2 victory over Liberty before 2,364 at Davenport Field.
This time, Virginia took advantage of erratic arms. The Flames (11-6) walked 11 batters and hit another.
“Today, certainly in a lot of situations, we did make them pay,” O’Connor said.
Take the first inning as a prime example.
Liberty starter Willi Martin lasted all of 14 pitches — two were strikes. The junior right-hander walked the bases loaded before being replaced by Kyle McKelvey.
McKelvey then threw a wild pitch that scored Branden Cogswell and gave up a two-run triple to Brandon Downes in the same at-bat.
Downes later scored on another wild pitch.
It was 4-1, Virginia, from one hit.
“That gave us a lot of momentum early in the game,” O’Connor said. “That’s what it’s about. In this game when you play a high-quality opponent like Maryland or Liberty, you might not get many opportunities and you got to knock them in when you get a chance to.”
The production was more than enough for Wahoo starter Trey Oest, who shook off early struggles (two runs in the first two innings) to complete a solid five-inning performance.
“I definitely got off to a little bit of a slow start,” Oest said. “I struggled with command and making the pitches. But then, after the second inning, I got out of that.
“In the third inning, it got a little bit easier. I started feeling it, getting in a groove, just getting into the rhythm that I needed to be in.”
Which led to a stretch of 11 consecutive batters retired.
The freshman righty improved to 3-0 by striking out three and walking just one. A perfect record coming in, Oest’s ERA rose to 1.12.
“He really showed me something,” O’Connor said. “He kind of muddled around a little bit in the first two innings and was leaving some balls up in the zone, but he really buckled down in those innings three through five.”
Keeping with their theme of the evening, the Cavs continued to pile on Liberty mistakes in the seventh inning when Nate Irving got a two-out, two-run double out of a pop fly to left field that was lost in the Davenport lights by the Flames’ Nick Lacik.
All in all, the win gave the Wahoos their proper tune-up before a big weekend series at Clemson (10-5).
“We’re playing well,” said freshman right fielder Joe McCarthy, who went 2-for-3 on Wednesday. “We’re just going to try to keep it going.”