Feb. 25, 2018
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Junior Evan Sperling (Poquoson, Va.) turned in another dominant starting pitching effort as No. 18 Virginia (4-3) captured the series against Eastern Kentucky (1-6) with a 13-1 victory in the series finale.
Sperling surrendered only one hit, a single in the top of the second, in five innings pitched. He struck out six batters and did not issue a walk in a 69-pitch effort. The junior right-hander retired 11-straight Colonels before exiting in the fifth and has yet to give up a run this season.
“I’m proud of the way the way our guys responded after a difficult loss on Friday,” head coach Brian O’Connor said. “Evan Sperling came out today and pitched a nice ball game, again for us. I thought offensively we did some good things today, strung together some hits and came up with some clutch hits in the process.”
Last Sunday, Sperling matched a career-high with nine strikeouts in a shutout of Rice to help Virginia to complete a 2-1 weekend in Orlando.
The Virginia offense racked up 12 hits, the third-straight game with 10 or more base knocks. The decisive inning came in the fourth when 10 batters came to the plate and the Cavaliers plated six runs, the most in a single frame this season.
Junior Jake McCarthy (Scranton, Pa.) sparked the Virginia offense from the leadoff spot, going 2-for-4 with three runs scored. He stole his third and fourth bases of the year and began the six-run rally in the fourth with a single through the right side.
Freshman Tanner Morris (Crozet, Va.) added two more hits, including a double down the right field line in the big fourth inning. In three games against Eastern Kentucky he went 6-for-9 with two doubles, four runs scored and three RBI.
Including Morris, six different Cavaliers, Alex Tappen (Lower Gwynedd, Pa.), Justin Novak (Tokyo, Japan), Nate Eikhoff (Bristow, Va.), Charlie Cody (Chesapeake, Va.) and Christian Hlinka (Frenchtown, N.J.), recorded an RBI in the big sixth-inning rally.
Eikhoff gave the Cavaliers the initial lead with a two-RBI double in the bottom of the first inning. He finished the day with three RBIs and is tops on the team with four extra-base hits through the first seven games. Cody had a game-high three hits, matching his career-best.
Out of the bullpen, Griff McGarry (Portola Valley, Calif.) and Grant Donahue (Berlin, Md.) continued what Sperling started, each tossing 1-2-3 innings. Between Sperling, McGarry and Donahue, 17 Colonels were retired in order.
Virginia will play two midweek contests beginning on Tuesday (Feb. 27) with a matchup against VMI. The Cavaliers will welcome William & Mary on Wednesday (Feb. 28). Both games are scheduled for 3 p.m. starts.
– Combined, both teams used 31 position players and nine pitchers in the game.
– Virginia scored six runs with two outs and totaled 15 two-out runs in the series.
– Jalen Harrison (Palmyra, Va.) recorded the team’s first triple of 2018, scoring two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning.
– The Cavaliers scored in the first inning in all three games against Eastern Kentucky.
– Andy Weber (Aurora, Ohio) extended his hit streak to 11 games with a double in the fourth inning.