As the rain increased, so did the workload for the Davenport Field grounds crew.
Dirt was spread, then raked in an effort to make the infield playable for Virginia and Monmouth.
Sunday’s scene differed drastically from a week earlier when the only unfortunate element of the afternoon was, perhaps, a sun shining so bright it was interfering with views.
But under wet conditions or cloudless skies, the show goes on this season for the nation’s No. 1 team.
The Cavaliers swept a doubleheader with the Hawks on Sunday, taking game one, 5-3, and a rain-shortened game two, 6-2, in six innings.
It’s a series sweep for UVa as well, giving the Wahoos (9-2) nine wins in their last 10 games.
“I thought this weekend was a really good weekend for us,” said Virginia coach Brian O’Connor. “Obviously, any time you sweep a series, you got to feel good about it. I thought our starting pitching did a nice job all weekend.”
O’Connor made similar remarks last Sunday after the Cavs swept East Carolina in Charlottesville temperatures peaking in the mid-60s.
Seven days later, the weather turned ugly. The arms, however, didn’t.
Sophomore right-hander Josh Sborz took the game one win, scattering two runs on six hits in five innings. He was relieved by the bullpen combination of David Rosenberger (one run, three hits in two innings) and Nick Howard (21 pitches to record the first six-out save of his career).
“I just felt that first game, it was time for him to come in and stretch him out a little bit and look at him for two innings,” O’Connor said of Howard, who didn’t allow a base runner and kept his ERA at 0.00. “There may be a point where he enters the ballgame in the seventh inning at some point depending on what happens throughout the weekend and what we have in front of us.
“I thought Nick was in complete control. He’s throwing strikes and working fast and mixing his pitches.”
Brandon Waddell was the game two winner. The sophomore went a season-long six innings, giving up two runs on five hits and striking out five batters.
The lefty is now 2-0 with a 3.09 ERA since being moved from the Friday to Sunday starting spot.
“It’s pretty easy to adjust,” Waddell said. “Even though you get pushed back a couple days, your program really stays the same during the week. So there’s nothing that really changes besides the fact that you’re on a Sunday and not a Friday.
“The series can change a little bit because you’re the closing game and not the opener, but you still go out there with the same mindset, the same attack, ability and everything.”
The usuals led UVa’s offensive charge.
Mike Papi, last season’s ACC on-base percentage leader, reached base 10 times in 13 plate appearances this weekend. In Sunday’s first game, he drew three walks and also had an RBI single.
“It’s unbelievable,” center fielder Brandon Downes said of Papi, who upped his OBP to .560. “He’ll go 0-2 and then, before you know it, it’s 3-2 and then there’s this pitch on the outer half and he lays off every time.
“I’m like, ‘How do you do that?’”
Downes started the scoring for the ‘Hoos in game two with a one-out, two-RBI double in the first inning. The lanky 6-foot-3, 200-pounder clubbed a first-pitch change-up from Monmouth left-hander Jeff Singer to the gap in left-center.
Downes now owns a team-best 15 RBI.
Joe McCarthy climbed to 10 RBI with a two-run double in game two that nearly cleared the right-field wall.
Virginia scored its six runs on just three hits.
“We just did enough offensively and capitalized on some opportunities,” O’Connor said.
Waddell got Hawks right fielder Dan Shea to ground out to second base to end the sixth inning. Shortly thereafter, O’Connor met with Monmouth coach Dean Ehehalt and the umpire crew. The game was called.
“I hate when you have a guest in town, an opposing team, and you play a rain-shortened game, only a six-inning ballgame,” O’Connor said. “You don’t like winning that way, but the field conditions told us that that was what to do.”
UVa next hosts George Washington on Tuesday.