BLACKSBURG — Once upon a time — three weeks ago — Reed Gragnani was a senior college baseball player without a career home run.
Friday night, the Virginia second baseman plopped one over the right field bullpen at English Field and rounded the bases like he was a regular slugger.
Homer-less for 130 games, Gragnani has three in his last 13.
On most teams, he’d be carrying the hottest bat in the lineup. But this is UVa 2013.
Every stick has a chance to catch fire.
The No. 5 Cavaliers routed Virginia Tech, 15-6, before 3,142 on Friday night.
It was another nine-inning reminder of the danger that exists in all slots of Brian O’Connor’s order
“Tonight, we just had a tremendous offensive day,” said Virginia’s 10th-year coach. “Our approach was really good at the plate throughout our entire lineup. There were a lot of guys that were taking good swings and also battling with two strikes. We had a lot of two-strike hits and just really had a tremendous offensive day.”
Throw in Wednesday’s 16-hit, 16-8 mashing over James Madison, Tuesday’s 12-hit, 6-2 win over Richmond and it’s safe to say UVa is hardly having trouble with in-state pitching this week.
The Wahoos (38-6, 17-5 ACC) set a season-high with 17 hits. They’ve scored 15-plus runs in consecutive games for the first time since March 2009.
Virginia Tech starter Brad Markey entered Friday with an ERA of 5.82. He exited after 5 2/3 innings with an ERA of 6.24.
UVa starter Brandon Waddell (4-1) wasn’t exactly dazzling (six runs on eight hits in 5 2/3), but he had the Virginia offensive advantage.
“It’s nice knowing that if you give up a couple runs, they’ll be right there behind you to support you,” Waddell said. “You’re always going to have run support. It gives you ease of mind coming in.
“You still have to get the job done, but it definitely makes it easier on you as a pitcher.”
Waddell gave up two hits and a run in the first inning that led to some hope for the home team.
Virginia Tech (25-18, 9-13) was swept by a combined score of 37-8 in UVa’s last visit to Blacksburg, but O’Connor called these particular Hokies the best the program has had in the last decade.
Their 1-0 lead lasted all of four batters into the second inning.
The Cavaliers scored four runs in the second, had one in the third, one in the fifth, three in the sixth and six in the seventh.
It was machine-like.
“Our lineup’s pretty strong one-through-nine,” said Gragnani, who went 3-for-5 with four RBI from the eight-hole. “Fortunately enough tonight, we were able to get some good pitches to hit. We put good swings on them. And the lineup’s just tough.
“We did a good job, collectively, tonight.”
Cather Nate Irving was the lone Cavalier to not collect a hit, but he still drove in a run on a fielder’s choice in the second inning.
Center fielder Brandon Downes was the lone Wahoo to not collect an RBI, but he still went 3-for-6 with a pair of ground-rule doubles and runs scored. First baseman Jared King went 3-for-6 with two RBI.
The Hokies picked the wrong night to extend innings with three errors.
"You get a good lineup like that and, in certain innings, we gave those guys more than three outs,” said Virginia Tech coach Pete Hughes. “When you have a lineup that's just sound one-through-nine, and you give them more than three outs, it's going to present a lot of scoring opportunities.
“That was the story of the game."
Well, that and the continued power surge of Gragnani.
“I don’t know what it is,” said the Richmond native who went deep in the sixth inning. “I haven’t changed anything. I’m just going up there relaxed and looking for a pitch up and [I’m] just trying to put a good swing on it.”
The series will resume at 2 p.m., today.