Virginia opened its season with a win over Oklahoma before dropping the final two games of the series. In this weekend’s series against No. 7 N.C. State, UVa won Game 1 before fading late and losing Game 2.
This time, however, the rubber match went Virginia’s way.
UVa used a six-run second inning to jump in front en route to a 10-3 Sunday victory over the Wolfpack. The Wahoos (12-4, 2-1 ACC) hit two home runs and a pair of triples as the offense tallied 10 runs for the seventh time this season.
“Proud of our guys and the way they responded,” Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor said. “That’s what it’s about. This is going to be a grind in this league every weekend, and it’s how you step up the next day, doing what you can to win a series.”
N.C. State struck first in the top of the second inning. Luca Tresh singled and a wild pitch moved the sophomore over to second base with two outs. Fellow sophomore Vojtech Mensik drove Tresh in on a single to right field.
Like it did many times over the weekend series, Virginia responded promptly to N.C. State runs. The Cavaliers exploded for six second-inning runs.
Alex Tappen, who returned from injury Saturday, led the inning off with a hard-hit double to the left centerfield gap. Chris Newell knocked him in with a single to right centerfield.
A sacrifice bunt and a groundout moved Newell to third with two outs and the game knotted at one. Virginia pushed five runs across with two outs. Logan Michaels singled down the right field line to push Newell across.
Nic Kent was hit a by a pitch to place runners on first and second for left-handed freshman Max Cotier. The first year went opposite field and laced a triple down the left field line. Virginia led 4-1 after Cotier’s fourth triple of the season.
N.C. State went to the bullpen, pulling David Harrison. The junior left had only allowed one run in 15 2/3 innings of work prior to his rocky outing against the Wahoos.
Not to be outdone by Cotier, his underclassmen counterpart, sophomore Zack Gelof launched a two-run blast over the 370-foot mark in left centerfield. The blast was Gelof’s fourth of the season.
The Wolfpack added a run in the third, and the Cavaliers answered with a run in the fourth to lead 7-2. N.C. State threatened to claw back into the game in the fifth inning. UVa freshman Nate Savino was pulled after walking the first batter and tossing 59 pitches.
“I was proud of Nate Savino,” O’Connor said. “Again, he should be starting today on a high-school field somewhere and here is starting against a top-10 ranked opponent.”
Paul Kosanovich came in and loaded the bases while recording one out.
Kosanovich then struck out the next two batters. After the second strikeout, the senior pitcher yelled and clenched his fists as he looked toward his dugout. The reliever was fired up to work out of the jam.
“There was no question in my mind I was gonna get the job done,” Kosanovich said. “It just happened to be a strikeout, which made it a lot better. That’s where the celebration came from.”
He didn’t have quite the same luck in the sixth inning. An error and a double gave N.C. State runners on second and third. A groundout scored a run and moved a runner to third base. After a flyout, Stephen Schoch entered the game for the Wahoos.
Normally Virginia’s closer, Schoch struck out Jose Torres to end the frame with UVa leading 7-3.
In the seventh, Schoch worked a 1-2-3 inning, and Gelof smacked his second home run of the day. This long ball soared over the left field bleachers, carrying well over the left field wall on a no-doubt home run.
“Maybe in BP but probably not that far,” Gelof said of the distance of his shot. “I wasn’t really watching it. I was just head down, kind of running, but it felt pretty good.”
UVa added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth. Brendan Rivoli, who returned from injury Saturday, hit an RBI triple and Cotier knocked in Rivoli for his fourth RBI of the contest.
Andrew Abbott worked a scoreless ninth inning to secure the UVa win. The Cavaliers made a statement by opening ACC play with a series win over No. 7 N.C. State.
“We’re still learning about our team,” O’Connor said. “It’s still early. We have nine of these ACC weekends left, but I’m proud of our guys. We still have a lot of young, new players out there that are learning and growing and I’m proud to see them step up in such a big, pivotal series to start the ACC off.”