BLACKSBURG, Va. – The top-ranked Virginia baseball team scored 17 runs over a four-inning span to bounce back from an early deficit and trounce Virginia Tech, 18-3, Friday night at a frigid English Field in Blacksburg. The Cavaliers (26-2, 9-1 ACC) banged out 16 hits in their largest offensive output of the season and used strong pitching from Danny Hultzen (Jr., Bethesda, Md.) and Whit Mayberry (So., Alexandria, Va.) to cruise to their seventh straight win.
Virginia’s offense was the story of the night. The Cavaliers made six full trips through the batting order and every Virginia starter reached base at least twice. Steven Proscia (Jr., Suffern, N.Y.) went 3-for-5 and tied a career high with five RBI. Jared King (Jr., Radford, Va.) went 3-for-4 with a career-high four RBI. Reed Gragnani (So., Richmond, Va.) scored three times and drove in three runs.
UVa batted around three times, sending nine to the plate in the third, a dozen in the fourth and nine more in the sixth. Leadoff hitter Chris Taylor (So., Virginia Beach, Va.) made six plate appearances in the first six innings.
Hultzen (6-0) bounced back from an early home run to pitch six innings, allowing two earned runs, four hits and two walks while striking out seven. He retired 10 of the final 11 batters he faced and moved within one victory of the UVa career wins record. Hultzen now has 26 career wins, just behind Jacob Thompson, who recorded 27 wins from 2006-08. With his seven-strikeout day, Hultzen moved into 21st place in the ACC in career strikeouts with 308, passing Georgia Tech’s Deck McGuire (306, 2008-10) and Duke’s Stephen Cowie (307, 1996-99).
Mayberry worked the final three innings to earn his first career save.
Joe Mantiply (2-5) took the loss for Virginia Tech after allowing five earned runs, six hits and two walks in 2.2 innings. The Hokies (14-14, 1-9) used six pitchers in the game. Walks proved to be a huge bugaboo for Virginia Tech – the Hokies issued 11 bases on balls. Andrew Rash and Tyler Horan each homered for Virginia Tech, which finished with six hits.
Virginia Tech jumped on Hultzen for a pair of first-inning runs. Hultzen walked leadoff batter Tony Balisteri, and it came back to haunt him when Rash ripped his league-leading ninth home run of the season, a rocket into the trees in left-center field.
After leaving four runners on base and going scoreless in the first two innings, Virginia broke loose over the next four innings, unleashing an offensive barrage with 12 hits and 17 runs to turn the game into a blowout.
UVa started the onslaught in the third inning, scoring five runs after two were out while bouncing Mantiply from the game. With one out John Hicks (Jr., Sandy Hook, Va.) walked and Ryan Levine (So., Hackensack, N.J.) singled. One out later Kenny Swab (Sr., Kernersville, N.C.) doubled over the head of Rash in left field, with Hicks scoring. Gragnani cranked the next pitch up the middle to score two runs, then came home when King tripled to right-center. Mantiply was pulled in favor of Kyle Joyce after walking the next batter, but Joyce balked in a run to give UVa a 5-2 lead.
The Cavaliers blew the game open with a six-run fourth inning, despite only recording two hits in the inning. Virginia sent a dozen batters to the plate in the big inning. The first four Virginia batters reached base, capped when Proscia ripped a two-run single to left field. One out later Gragnani walked to load the bases again, and King lined a single to left to plate two more runs. Joyce was replaced by Kyle Cichy, who issued back-to-back walks to Keith Werman (Jr., Vienna, Va.) and Chris Taylor (So., Virginia Beach, Va.) to force in a run. John Barr (Sr., Ivyland, Pa.) then lifted a sacrifice fly to late Gragnani with the sixth run of the inning.
UVa added a pair of runs in the fifth. Levine led off with a triple to left-center and scored on a Proscia groundout. With two outs Gragnani walked, moved up on a wild pitch and scored on King’s third straight hit, a single to left-center field.
UVa scored four more in the sixth inning. The first five Cavalier batters reached base, and Proscia plated two runs with his third single of the day. Gragnani hit a sacrifice fly and Werman later grounded into a fielder’s choice, with Proscia scoring on the play, to push the lead to 17-2.
The Cavaliers added a final run in the eighth inning when Swab scored on a wild pitch. Virginia Tech got the run back in the ninth on a home run by Horan.
The teams are back in action at 2 p.m. Saturday. The live audio broadcast will be available at VirginiaSports.com.