A clean Branden Cogswell gloving and Artie Lewicki is likely the winner in Virginia’s game with Radford on Wednesday.
Lewicki allowed a leadoff walk to the Highlanders’ Josh Gardiner and a single to Josh Reavis. Jeff Kemp, Radford’s third batter, sent a grounder to short that had double play written all over it.
Except Cogswell booted it, loading the bases and foreshadowing trouble for Lewicki’s 2013 debut.
Naturally, the next Highlander grounded out to first base.
But such is baseball.
Lewicki, pitching just eight months after Tommy John surgery, went one inning, giving up three runs (two earned) on two hits. The junior walked one and didn’t record any strikeouts.
He ended up the loser in the 9-8 upset.
“Our defense has been great all year,” Lewicki said. “Those things happen. Nobody goes out there and is perfect every single time. Pitchers make mistakes, fielders make errors. It’s just part of the game.”
Nonetheless, Lewicki’s simple appearance was a victory in the defeat.
The right-hander hurt his elbow while playing for the Keene Swamp Bats in the New England Collegiate Baseball League.
It required surgery on Aug. 7, 2012. He was back on the mound on April 10, 2013.
“When you come back from Tommy John surgery, the player tells you on how he’s recovering after he throws and things like that — what his status is,” said UVa coach Brian O’Connor. “Certainly guys have come back from this surgery quicker. But this was the next step. Artie’s been throwing live to hitters and has looked very good for really three or four weeks, now.
“You can’t hold a guy back anymore. The next thing is to put him in game competition and build his pitch count up from a game standpoint.
“It doesn’t surprise me that he’s back on the mound today because this kid is a warrior. And he works. He’s deserved this opportunity to come out and start to pitch for us.”
Lewicki was the Sunday starter for the Wahoos last season. He went 4-3 with a 3.82 ERA. In the ACC alone, he went 3-1 with a 2.87 ERA.
Wednesday, flashes of his brilliance returned.
His fastball hit up to 92 mph.
“Honestly, I felt pretty good,” Lewicki said. “I felt like I could have done a lot better locating my pitchers. I think I also fell behind in the count a couple times, but overall I felt pretty comfortable.”
So what does his return mean to UVa’s pitching staff?
O’Connor hinted you could see more midweek appearances from the 6-foot-3, 195-pounder.
Lewicki was on a pitch count of 30 on Wednesday. He threw 25.
“We’ll look at it,” O’Connor said, “but that’s probably something that we’ll continue to do and continue to bump up his pitch count. Obviously, he’s showing that he’s healthy. He’s got a good arm.”