Top-ranked 'Hoos complete sweep of Pirates - Cavalier Insider: Cavalier Insider

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Top-ranked 'Hoos complete sweep of Pirates

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Posted: Sunday, February 23, 2014 6:09 pm | Updated: 8:41 am, Mon Feb 24, 2014.

Cloudless skies and temperatures peaking in the mid-60s greeted the 10,245 individuals who piled into Davenport Field this weekend.

For the third week of February, Charlottesville had ideal baseball weather.

So the University of Virginia decided to take full advantage.

On the diamond. In the stands.

The No. 1 Cavaliers defeated East Carolina, 6-2, on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep that included elite performances and record crowds.

Friday, UVa did just enough to get by heralded ECU ace Jeff Hoffman and took a 3-2 win.

Saturday, it was an impressive blend of pitching and defense that led to a 4-0 blanking.

Sunday, clutch hitting combined with more mound prowess to give the Pirates their first non-conference road sweeping since 2007.

“Certainly,” said Virginia coach Brian O’Connor, “we couldn’t do it without those fans.”

Yes, them.

Sunday’s attendance of 3,592 was a program record for the month of February. The series number was also a program record for the month of February.

“We’ve built a pretty good brand in this community,” O’Connor said, “that Virginia baseball is exciting, it’s fun to come out and watch.”

The entertainment value remained high Sunday as spectators could continue to marvel at the talented Wahoo lineup.

Six individuals had run-scoring hits — all coming with two outs.

The Cavs (6-1) scored four runs in the third inning courtesy of Brandon Downes, Derek Fisher, Matt Thaiss and Nate Irving.

Virginia’s four-through-seven hitters pieced together four straight RBI knocks.

“I believe we had three stolen bases that inning,” O’Connor said. “We just kept being able to get a guy on and then get him into scoring position with the stolen base. The fact that they came with two outs, I love to see.”

Which meant he enjoyed UVa’s next two at-bats as well.

In the fourth inning, Joe McCarthy scored Mike Papi on a two-out single to right field. An inning later, John La Prise, in the same situation, brought home Thaiss with a single to left.

“We’re a blue collar baseball team,” said Fisher, who went 2 for 4 to raise his batting average to a sizzling .423. “I think anybody that’s a fan of baseball understands that two-out hits are going to win you championships.

“With this team, we’re going to battle each and every at-bat, but with two outs, we’re going to try to obviously extend an inning and see how many guys we can get up there with that one final out left.”

Brandon Waddell, starting on Sunday for the first time in his career, threw 5 2/3 innings, scattering two runs on five hits. The sophomore struck out two and walked one to earn a bounce-back win following last Friday’s rough outing in an 8-3 loss to Kentucky.

“It was a coaches’ decision,” Waddell said of the weekend rotation change that moved his start back two days. “They decided it was best for the team. You got to focus on what you can control and that’s really out of my control.

“You just got to be ready when your number’s called to go out and compete whenever that is.”

As a staff, the Cavaliers did just that this weekend, limiting a .309-hitting Pirate squad to four runs in three days.

Against ECU (3-4), Virginia’s bullpen worked 10 innings of scoreless relief.

The ‘Hoos also didn’t commit an error in the series.

“All weekend, the defensive intensity that we played with was pretty special,” O’Connor said.

So was the Davenport scene.

“Playing a team like this for a three-game set is pretty cool for right now,” Fisher said, “and especially with the weather we were blessed with for three consecutive days.”

Virginia hosts VMI on Tuesday. First pitch is 3 p.m.

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