Kyle Crockett came back to the dugout to high-fives and handshakes from his teammates. The Virginia closer had just cruised through the eighth inning, setting up his ninth save in as many chances.
It was a moment to relax, keep the left arm loose and watch the Cavalier offense pad its 4-2 lead over Florida State.
Or so he thought.
“I told him to take pitches,” said UVa coach Brian O’Connor. “I just didn’t want to see him get hurt, try to do too much.”
Yes, Crockett, a junior who had never stepped foot in a collegiate batter’s box, was due up in the order.
“I had no idea,” Crockett said.
Mere minutes later, he ripped a 2-2 Robby Coles fastball up the middle for a single.
When it’s going well, it’s going well.
With a 5-2 win on Sunday, No. 7 Virginia posted its first-ever sweep of No. 5 Florida State. The Cavs are now 35-6 and 16-5 in the ACC. Their team ERA is down to 2.63. Their top reliever is batting 1.000 for his career.
“I’m sure we’re going to hear about it from all the pitchers,” said UVa first baseman Jared King. “[They’re] going to say how athletic they are now.
“Hats off to Kyle.”
Really, go ahead and tip your lid to the entire squad.
For a two-day stretch, the Wahoos outscored a national power, 16-4, over three games. In fact, the Seminoles didn’t hold a lead the entire weekend.
A Davenport Field series record 13,890 spectators saw it happen.
Not a bad way for O’Connor to spend his 42nd birthday.
“Pretty good present, certainly,” O’Connor said.
Sunday’s result carried the theme from Saturday’s doubleheader sweep — pitching ruled.
Starter Nick Howard (5-3) went 6 2/3 innings, giving up one run on five hits and struck out four. The performance fell in line with what Brandon Waddell and Scott Silverstein did a day earlier.
Virginia’s weekend rotation went a combined 19 2/3 innings, yielding two runs on 10 hits and recording 13 K’s.
“This weekend was defined by really high-caliber pitching,” O’Connor said. “I just felt for us to continue to move forward as a team, with this year’s team, it was going to take our starters going out there and pitching deeper into the ballgame.
“We’ve been inconsistent with that, but certainly we got that with all three starts this weekend. It shows what you can do if you can get those guys to pitch into the sixth and seventh inning.”
Florida State’s starter only got to the fifth inning on Sunday.
Scott Sitz, the owner of the ACC’s second-best ERA entering the afternoon, was rocked for four runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings.
King broke a scoreless tie in the third by flying a shot into right that got over the head of FSU’s Jameis Winston. The double, plus an error on a Winston bobble, scored three Cavalier runs.
“I guess that was the second time I saw him,” said King, who went 3 for 4. “I had seen pretty much everything he had that first at-bat. So I was pretty confident.”
Joe McCarthy next plated King with a sacrifice fly to right field for the freshman’s 32nd RBI. It would be his last of the day.
In the fifth inning, McCarthy chased down a foul ball into the brick wall along right field. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder made the catch, but jammed a finger on his throwing hand in the process.
“Joe did not dislocate his finger,” O’Connor said. “I just think he jammed it pretty good. I still sent him up there to hit. He told me that he was OK, that he could do it. We just figured out that it wasn’t in his best interest or in our best interest to keep him in the ballgame.
“We’ll know more tomorrow and as the week moves on.”
The injury forced O’Connor to move Mike Papi to right field and turn Derek Fisher from the designated hitter to the left fielder. Howard became the DH.
However, Howard exited in the seventh inning and McCarthy’s spot became ... Crockett’s.
“They told me to go in there and just stand there and take a fastball,” Crockett said. “If they keep throwing me fastballs, swing.”
The former .480 high school hitter who hadn’t taken BP once this season eventually got the token heater.
He naturally collected Virginia’s seventh hit of the afternoon.
Davenport Field erupted.
“That was one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a while,” Howard said.
Added King: “I don’t think anybody in the entire stadium wasn’t laughing at that point because that’s something you just don’t see. Hats off to him.”
Crockett then came around to score on a Papi single.
Indeed, it’s going well for these Wahoos.
Virginia next hosts Richmond at 6 p.m., Tuesday.