The 3-0 Chris Diaz pitch crossed Mike Papi in such a way that the Davenport Field crowd of 3,299 groaned in disapproval when home plate umpire Tony Walsh called a strike rather than give the Virginia left fielder a free pass.
Papi simply put his head down and went through a series of warm-up swings.
To a player this hot, a call to extend an at-bat just means he gets another chance to damage a baseball.
Sure enough, Papi would sizzle a 3-2 toss down the right field line for a double.
No. 5 UVa improved to 24-2 and 8-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference on Friday with a 15-4 win over Miami. The victory featured some timely hitting, some great bullpen work and a whole lot of Mike Papi.
The sophomore went 4-for-4 with an RBI. He’s now 18 for his last 26 with eight extra-base hits and 10 RBI.
“I’m not thinking about the stats, really,” Papi said. “I’m just trying to help the team out, have a good approach, stay in the middle of the field.”
If there was any downside to the Cavaliers’ 7-1 rout of Towson on Wednesday, it came in the sixth inning when preseason All-American Derek Fisher landed awkwardly on second base while hustling out a double.
The sophomore left fielder was pulled with a sprained ankle and got the “day-to-day” label from Virginia coach Brian O’Connor.
The replacement option was a simple one.
Papi, not an everyday player, entered hitting .442. He left with a .489 average.
“Mike Papi stepped in there in left field and had a really big day for us, offensively,” O’Connor said. “He just had a lot of clutch hits. He was really locked in. He’s been swinging the bat as good as anybody the last couple of weeks.”
He had an infield single in the second inning, an RBI double in the third, a double to right in the sixth and a double that literally dropped on the left field line in the eighth.
When it’s going good, it’s going good.
“Yeah, I don’t know,” Papi said. “I guess when you’re hitting good, you get those, too. I’ll take it if that’s where it’s at.”
Fittingly, his final knock sparked a nine-run inning that put away the Hurricanes (19-10, 4-6).
Brandon Downes blew it open with a three-run shot to the Hoo Zone. The sophomore went 2-for-4 with five RBI. He was just one of the many offensive stars.
Joe McCarthy was 3-for-4 with two RBI. Jared King, Branden Cogswell and Reed Gragnani went a combined 6-for-15 with seven RBI.
But Papi trumped them all.
The hero of the Clemson series (5-for-7 with a go-ahead home run in game one) has been on a lethal two-week tear.
“Lately, I’ve been seeing it great,” Papi said. “When you’re seeing it, the game’s slow. The game slows down for you. You don’t feel quick in the box. You can be relaxed and that’s the most important thing.”
Reliever Austin Young (3-0) got the win by providing a solid 3 2/3 innings after starter Brandon Waddell exited in the fourth.
The teams will meet again at 1 p.m., today.