CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Virginia (4-3) totaled 24 runs in two games and earned a doubleheader split with Bucknell (2-5) on Saturday (Feb. 22) at Disharoon Park. The Cavaliers took the opener 14-3 before having a comeback fall short in the nightcap, a 14-10 setback.
The loss in the second game snapped a 15-game home winning streak against non-conference opponents. The Cavaliers erupted for a season-high 14 runs on 14 hits in the first game. Virginia brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with one out in the second game but couldn’t scratch away the four-run deficit.
“I thought we did a really good job in our starting (pitching) performance in game one but didn’t do what we needed to do on the mound in game two,” head coach Brian O’Connor said. “I thought Bucknell was ferocious in that second game, they just kept coming at us and we just couldn’t put them away.
The two teams will close out the series on Sunday (Feb. 23) at 1 p.m. Freshman lefthander Nate Savino will make his first collegiate start and he will be opposed by Bucknell southpaw Tyler Rigot.
Game 1 (Virginia – 14, Bucknell – 3)
Starting pitcher Mike Vasil (Wellesley, Mass.) put forth his best effort as a Cavalier and earned his first victory of the 2020 season. Vasil sat down 13 of the first 14 batters he faced and 11-straight between the first and fifth innings. Bucknell didn’t record its first hit until a single to right field by Peter Marren in the fifth inning. Vasil struck out a career-high 10 batters over six innings of work, earning the first quality start by a Cavalier starting pitcher this season.
The Cavalier offense put a run on the board in all but one turn at the plate. Sophomore Nic Kent (Charlottesville, Va.) led the way with a 4-for-5, three RBI effort. He and Chris Newell (Newtown Square, Pa.) each scored a game-high three runs. The four-hit game for Kent was the third of his career.
Newell, Zack Gelof (Rehoboth Beach, Del.) and Christian Hlinka (Frenchtown, N.J.) each went deep in the contest. For Hlinka and Newell the home runs were the first of their careers. Newell finished a triple shy of the cycle and reached base four times while driving in a pair of runs. Gelof’s solo home run in the bottom of the fourth gave Virginia a commanding 8-0 lead.
Game 2 (Bucknell – 14, Virginia – 10)
Trailing 14-8 going into the bottom of the ninth inning, Brendan Rivoli (Douglassville, Pa.) drove in two on an RBI single to right field that scored Kent and Newell, bringing the Cavaliers within four. The RBI were two of the three in the contest for Rivoli who had a team-high three hits.
A walk issued to Marc Lebreux (Montreal, Quebec, Canada) loaded the bases for the second time in the frame and brought the tying run to the plate. Bucknell went to closer Andrew Funovits who struck out the final two batters of the game for his first save of the season.
The Cavaliers were victims of back-to-back five-run innings by the Bucknell attack in the sixth and seventh innings. The Bison combination of Chris Cannizzaro and Jake Wortman combined to go 5-for-10 with two home runs and nine RBI.
Gelof and Hlinka each hit their second home runs of the day in the loss. Gelof hit a solo shot in the bottom of the fourth and Hlinka went yard in the seventh. In the two games, Gelof was 4-for-7 with a double, triple, two home runs, four RBI and four runs scored.
• Vasil became the first Cavalier since Daniel Lynch on May 14, 2018 to record double-digit strikeouts in a game.
• Hlinka hit a pinch-hit homer in game one, the first long ball of his career. He is the first Cavalier to hit a pinch-hit homer since 2018.
• The loss to Bucknell was the first in 16 all-time meetings under Brian O’Connor.
• The 14 runs in game one were the most by Virginia since posting 14 against Norfolk State last season.
• Brandon Neeck (Chappaqua, N.Y.), Cristian Sanchez (Centreville, N.Y.), Jayson Hoopes (Northfield, N.J.) and Jacob Hodorovich (Scott Township, Pa.) each made their collegiate debuts in the doubleheader. Junior transfer Walker Jenkins (Sun Prarie, Wis.) made his first start for the Cavaliers play second base in game one.