CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – No. 5 Virginia earned a series victory against No. 2 Georgia Tech behind a strong pitching performance from junior Cody Winiarski on Sunday. Winiarski allowed one run in 5.1 innings on route to a 9-1 Virginia victory, stifling a prolific Georgia Tech lineup that hit four home runs in the first two games in the series.
Meanwhile, Virginia recorded 12 hits against Georgia Tech’s Sunday pitching. Nine of the twelve hits were up-the-middle singles, and many of those hits were clutch two-out, two-strike hits.
Virginia jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning when Dan Grovatt led off with a single to right-center and stole second. After John Hicks advanced to second base on a fielder’s choice then that saw Grovatt get caught in a pickle, Jarrett Parker singled to center to score Hicks, and Valdes doubled to deep right-center to score Parker. Phil Gosselin later hit a sacrifice fly to left-center that scored Valdes and gave Virginia a 3-0 lead.
Virginia stretched its lead to 6-0 in the bottom of the sixth. John Hicks singled up-the-middle on a 0-2 pitch and moved to second on a Parker single up-the-middle. After Valdes struck out swinging, John Barr singled to right to score Hicks. The Yellow Jackets went to its bullpen for Patrick Long, who promptly gave up a single up-the-middle to Gosselin to score Parker. A weird play ensued when Cannon hit a grounder that took a weird hop and bounced over Plagman’s glove at first base for an error, and later bounced under Esch’s glove (Esch was backing up Plagman) in the middle of the four-hole for another error that moved Cannon to second base.
Virginia added three insurance runs in the eighth inning when Phil Gosselin singled up-the-middle to score Franco Valdes and Stephen Bruno hit a two-run single up-the-middle to make the score 9-1 UVA.
The Cavaliers ultimately scattered the hits throughout the lineup—only Stephen Proscia failed to record a hit. Virginia ultimately executed on the base paths—being able to consistently score from second with up-the-middle singles when Georgia Tech couldn’t advance runners—with smart baserunning, hit in the clutch, and took advantage of scoring opportunities and inopportune Georgia Tech fielding errors.
Virginia coach Brian O’Connor was extremely pleased with his team’s hitting. Noting the numerous amount of clutch up-the-middle singles, he indicated an appreciation of his lineup’s work ethic and batting approach.
“We constantly tell the guys to work up the middle, it’s a conscious approach. [Today] we weren’t pulling off many balls… That’s a good sign showing that our guys have worked hard and have good approaches at the plate,” O’Connor said.
Georgia Tech did ultimately get on the scoreboard in the sixth inning when Derek Dietrich hit a no-doubt solo HR to straight right-field. Besides that, Virginia starter Cody Winiarski did an amazing job holding the ball inside the park against the prolific Georgia Tech offense.
“Me and [pitching coach Karl] Kuhn talked earlier in the week and said that if we were going to miss today, it would be away… I just wanted to keep the ball away and away from their barrels. I got behind in the count at times, but didn’t give them anything they could capitalize on,” Winiarski said.
Winiarski took the win after working 5.1 innings, conceding one run on five hits. Georgia Tech starting pitcher Jed Bradley took the loss after working 5.2 innings, conceding six runs (four earned) on eight hits.
Virginia relievers Tyler Wilson and Kevin Arico combined for 3.2 innings of scoreless baseball. O’Connor noted post-game that he believed Tyler Wilson has shaken off the memories of the NC State appearances and returned to shut-down form, which would benefit the Cavaliers immensely.
Virginia will face in-state rival Virginia Tech at UVA Baseball Stadium next weekend, while Georgia Tech will return home to face a talented Clemson team hungry to get back on track after a series loss to Duke.