WILLIAMSBURG — He got what he called a “good home run pitch” and drove a baseball deep into a tree that hangs above Plumeri Park’s right field wall, punishing any leaves standing in its way.
The shot increased Virginia’s second inning lead from 2-0 to 6-0.
Just another routine grand slam for Mike Papi.
UVa’s All-American first baseman is at the point now where he’s deflecting credit for these bases-clearing bombs.
“I got to give it to Robbie Coman,” Papi said. “He taped my bat.”
Maybe future opponents should try to steal his bat.
Papi launched his third grand slam in less than a year to highlight the No. 1 Cavaliers’ 17-2 rout of William & Mary before 845 spectators on Wednesday evening.
The game’s location was switched on Tuesday after Virginia determined Davenport Field wasn’t playable stemming from last week’s snow storm.
All it did was give Papi a new spot to test out his big blast skills.
Wake Forest’s Gene Hooks Field was the host last April when Papi hit Grand Slam No. 1 to rally the Wahoos to an improbable 7-6 win over the Demon Deacons. Grand Slam No. 2 came two weeks later at Davenport, a no-doubter that tied the Cavs’ game with Old Dominion.
Wednesday’s bomb didn’t have the dramatics, but its pop was all too familiar.
He got a 1-0 fastball from William & Mary starter Bryson Kauhaahaa that never had a chance of staying in the yard.
“Right down the middle,” Papi said.
Unfortunately for the Tribe, its staff grooved plenty of pitches that way.
UVa (3-1) took full advantage.
Papi’s 2-for-4, six RBI performance steals the headlines, but the junior has a bunch of friends in the lineup.
Right fielder Joe McCarthy went 2-for-4 with a home run and pair of RBI. Center fielder Brandon Downes went 3-for-5 with a home run and pair of RBI. Third baseman Kenny Towns went 2-for-4 with an RBI. Catcher Nate Irving went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI. Shortstop Daniel Pinero went 3-for-5 with an RBI.
The Cavaliers totaled 19 hits, abusing five different William & Mary pitchers.
“Certainly, we swung the bats really well today,” said UVa coach Brian O’Connor.
That made life easy for starting pitcher Artie Lewicki.
The senior right-hander, two years removed from Tommy John surgery that basically cost him all of last season, went five innings, yielding two runs on four hits. He struck out six and walked none.
“I felt really good,” Lewicki said. “It felt great to be back out there. It was a really good team win. It just feels really good to be back with everybody, playing again.”
And benefitting from one of the most lethal lineups in America.
“It’s the best lineup I think I’ve ever seen — playing for us or against us,” Lewicki said. “It’s easy to go out there and pitch when you got everybody behind you.”
Lewicki exited after a 1-2-3 fifth. His team led, 7-2.
By the time Connor Jones replaced Lewicki, UVa’s advantage had spiked to 16-2.
Yes, the Cavaliers put up a nine-spot in the sixth inning. Naturally, Papi was part of the festivities.
Once again, the bases were loaded with a bat in his hands. For an encore, the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder ripped a two-run single just past a diving Tim Hoehn, William & Mary’s shortstop.
It’s becoming automatic.
“You’re figuring something good’s going to happen when Papi’s in there,” Towns said. “The guy’s shown in the past year that he keeps his cool in those situations and does a lot of damage.
“That’s the guy you want up there.”
Virginia’s 2014 home schedule begins Friday when the Cavs kick off a three-game set with East Carolina. First pitch is 3 p.m.