Feb. 17, 2017

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CHARLESTON, S.C. — The Virginia baseball team opened its 2017 season Friday afternoon with a 10-2 victory over Liberty in the Charleston Crab House Challenge at Joe Riley Park in Charleston, S.C. Ranked as high as 16th nationally in the preseason polls, the Cavaliers racked up 13 hits in the convincing win.

“We played a really good ballgame,” Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor said. “We played really good defense, and I was happy to see that. I thought our pitching did a terrific job with Daniel Lynch and it was good to get two rookies out there for their first crack as well. Certainly we swung the bats well too. We played well in every phase of the game, and that was great to see.”

Seven Cavaliers recorded hits. Jake McCarthy (So., Scranton, Pa.) hit a three-run homer and went 3-for-4 while scoring three runs and reaching base safely four times. Ernie Clement (Jr., Rochester, N.Y.) and Cayman Richardson (Fr., Mechanicsville, Va.) each recorded a pair of hits and scored twice.

Virginia starter Daniel Lynch (So., Henrico, Va.) fired 6 1/3 innings of one-run baseball, giving up four hits and a pair of walks while striking out six to earn the win. After scuffling in the first two innings, Lynch settled down to face the minimum over his next four frames. UVA’s trio of Lynch, Noah Murdock (Fr., Colonial Heights, Va.) and Bobby Nicholson (Fr., Charlottesville, Va.) limited Liberty to eight hits.

Liberty starter Eric Grabowski worked 4 2/3 innings, allowing 10 runs (eight earned), 11 hits and a walk with three strikeouts. Liberty’s defense did not help him out, committing four errors.

Virginia started fast, sending seven to the plate and scoring four runs in their first trip to the plate this year. After Clement (single) and McCarthy (hit by pitch) reached to start the game, Adam Haseley (Jr., Windermere, Fla.) lined a double off the base of the right-field wall. One out later, Robbie Coman (Gr., Lake Worth, Fla.) doubled to right-center for a 3-0 lead. He moved to third on a groundout and then hustled home on a wild pitch.

Liberty responded with a run in the second on a one-out single by Andrew Kowalo to plate Sammy Taormina.

Virginia benefitted from a two-out error by shortstop Cam Locklear in the bottom of the second, which loaded the bases. Pavin Smith (Jr., Jupiter, Fla.) then bounced a single up the middle to score Richardson and Clement for a 6-1 lead.

The lead ballooned to 9-1 in the fourth inning when McCarthy launched a three-run homer left field, a towering fly to the opposite field which curled just inside the foul pole. It was McCarthy’s first college home run. UVA added a run in the fifth on a groundout from Richardson that scored Nate Eikhoff (So., Bristow, Va.).

Liberty scored in the eighth inning off Murdock on a sac fly from Jake Barbee.

Virginia continues its weekend in Charleston at 3 p.m. Saturday against the tournament’s host team, The Citadel. The video of the Saturday game against The Citadel will stream online for free via the SoCon Digital Network. In the Charlottesville area, WINA 1070-AM and 98.9 FM will have the radio broadcast, while it will stream online at WINA.com.