CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. (Press Release) -- Behind seven innings of shutout, one-hit work from starting pitcher Artie Lewicki (Sr., Wyckoff, N.J.), the No. 1-ranked Virginia baseball team rolled to an 8-2 win over No. 22 Liberty Wednesday evening at Davenport Field. In the Cavaliers’ first game back after seven days off for final exams, the game drew 4,354 fans, a UVa record for a home midweek contest.
“I thought that overall was one of the better offensive approaches that we’ve had this year,” Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor said. “Tonight we were as opportunistic as we’ve been for quite some time. It was great to see. Our players trusted the plan tonight and a lot of guys did a great job with two strikes, battling and putting balls in play. Coming out of final exams and not playing a game in seven days, you’re always a little anxious about how we’re going to come out, but certainly tonight we did well.”
Lewicki (4-1) tied a career high by pitching seven innings, his most since May 26, 2012 against Florida State. He allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out six. Lewicki retired the final 11 batters he faced.
Liberty starter Jared Lyons (2-4) worked 2 1/3 innings, giving up five earned runs, five hits and a walk in taking the loss.
Virginia (38-9) finished with nine hits, while Nate Irving (Jr., Yonkers, N.Y.), Mike Papi (Jr., Tunkhannock, Pa.) and Kenny Towns (Jr., Burke, Va.) each recorded a pair. Towns drove in three runs with two run-scoring hits.
UVa came out swinging early and tallied a pair of second-inning runs. Leadoff hitter Nick Howard (Jr., Olney, Md.) was plunked with a pitch. After advancing on a Branden Cogswell (Jr., Ballston Lake, N.Y.) sacrifice bunt, Howard scored when Towns bounced a double down the left-field line. With two outs Irving singled to left-center to bring Towns around to score.
The Cavaliers pushed their lead to 5-0 with a three-run third inning. Virginia loaded the bases with one out, prompting Liberty to make a pitching change and bring in Shawn Clowers. Cogswell hit a sacrifice fly to right-center, with all three runners advancing. That proved key when Towns lined a single to center, scoring Joe McCarthy (So., Scranton, Pa.) and Howard.
Virginia added a pair of runs in the fourth inning. With the bases loaded and one out, McCarthy hit a check-swing dribbler to third base and reached on a fielder’s choice, with Irving scoring. Virginia then combined on a double steal, with McCarthy swiping second while Papi scored as the throw to second was bobbled.
Liberty (35-11) broke up the shutout on a two-out, two-run triple from Nick Lacik in the eighth inning. UVa responded with a run in its half of the eighth when Papi singled home Cogswell with two outs.
Virginia remains home Friday through Sunday (May 9-11) with its final home ACC series against Georgia Tech; the Cavaliers will hold Senior Day ceremonies at 11:40 a.m. Sunday prior to the noon game.