BLACKSBURG — In a historic sweep of Florida State last weekend, Virginia turned in a three-game sample of what phenomenal starting pitching can do to a series.
There was Brandon Waddell out-dueling FSU ace Luke Weaver in game one followed by a one-hit Scott Silverstein performance and capped off with 6 2/3 innings of stellar Nick Howard stuff.
The then-No. 7 Cavaliers sent the No. 5 Seminoles back to Tallahassee winless and near-empty at the plate.
Six days later, the UVa staff struggled to resemble anything close to an encore.
The fifth-ranked Wahoos went down in a doubleheader sweep on Saturday to Virginia Tech. The Virginia arms were hardly in FSU-form in losses of 5-3 and 11-6 at English Field.
“Our starting pitching last weekend was as good as it’s been all year,” said UVa coach Brian O’Connor. “It was tremendous. This weekend, it was not the case. There were a number of times, with two strikes, we had chances to execute pitches and we left balls on the plate that we didn’t do last weekend.
“That’s a credit to Virginia Tech.”
In Friday’s 15-6 win, Waddell gave up all six of those runs in 5 2/3 innings. In Saturday’s first game, Silverstein (7-1) suffered his first defeat in 2013 by yielding five runs (four earned) on 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings. Howard had his shortest outing of the year (2 1/3 innings) in game two. The sophomore, who was named to the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award watch list Saturday morning, was rocked for seven runs on six hits.
“I was leaving the ball up today,” said Howard, who dropped to 5-4. “They definitely took advantage of those mistakes. In this league, if you leave the ball up, you’re going to pay for it.”
How poor was the pitching in the nightcap?
O’Connor brought on lights-out closer Kyle Crockett with the ‘Hoos trailing 7-3 in the fourth inning. Even Crockett uncharacteristically gave up a pair of runs in 3 2/3 innings. He upped his season run total to all of four.
“Kyle hadn’t pitched yet on the weekend and I just felt that we had to try to win the middle part of the game,” O’Connor said, “and hopefully, we’d crawl back into it and we couldn’t let them score any more runs.
“It was just the move that I felt needed to be made. Unfortunately, it didn’t work.”
In the two games, the Hokies (27-18, 11-13 ACC) totaled 21 hits.
For the series, Virginia Tech got 22 runs on 31 hits. By contrast, the Cavaliers (38-8, 17-7) limited the Seminoles to four runs on 14 hits last weekend.
“You don’t have many opportunities to beat a team as well coached as they are, and as accomplished as they are, twice in a day,” said Virginia Tech coach Pete Hughes. “I mean, I haven’t coached a team that had such a good day against such a good opponent.”
Maybe the Cavs had this coming for them.
After all, in their last three wins, they’ve out-slugged opponents by an average score of 12-5.
Kenny Towns had five hits, including a home run, in the two games, but the usual Wahoo hot bats weren’t hot enough on Saturday.
“It starts on the mound,” O’Connor said. “You have to execute your pitches, you have to play good defense and we didn’t do those two things today. Quite frankly, I don’t think we did it in any of the three games.
“In no way do I want that to take away from what Virginia Tech did. They just beat us two out of three in their own ballpark. Credit has to go to them for them taking advantage on those opportunities.”
Virginia Tech has its first series win over its in-state rival since 2009.
Virginia was swept for the first time in an ACC doubleheader since 2008.
“You couldn’t play 18 innings better than we did today,” said Hokie right fielder Andrew Rash, who crushed a home run to left-center in the second inning of game two. “You seriously couldn’t.”
UVa next travels to take on VCU on Tuesday.