CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Behind a career day on the mound by Andrew Abbott (Republican Grove, Va.), No. 14 Virginia (1-0) secured a season-opening, 2-1 win over UConn (0-1) on Friday afternoon at Disharoon Park. The Cavaliers have won 13 of 18 season openers under head coach Brian O’Connor.
Abbott, making only his fourth career start after playing a prominent bullpen role the last three seasons, struck out a career-best-nine batters and did not allow a run over 5.2 innings pitched. Abbott allowed two hits and retired the last nine batters he faced before giving way to Paul Kosanovich (San Gabriel, Calif.) in the sixth inning.
“It’s been 11 months and it’s sure great to be back out on that field competing,” head coach Brian O’Connor said. “UConn has a veteran team, a really talented team, as do we. This was just game one of three games that are going to be really, really hard fought and we’re just excited to get the first win of the season.”
A seventh inning solo home run by UConn’s Reggie Crawford was the only hiccup on a lockdown bullpen performance. Closer Stephen Schoch (Laurel, Md.) worked a scoreless ninth for his first save of the season and sixth in a Cavalier uniform. Senior Kyle Whitten (Manassas, Va.) worked a perfect eighth and the righthander Kosanovich struck out three batters in 1.1 innings. The quartet of Cavalier pitchers combined for 15 strikeouts.
Catcher Logan Michaels (DeForest, Wis.) stood in the way of an 0-2 fastball that rung off his helmet with the bases loaded in the first inning to plate the first Cavalier run of the day. Virginia scored what would turn out to be the decisive run in the third inning on an RBI groundout by Alex Tappen (Lower Gwynedd, Pa.).
The Virginia offense only collected four hits, two off the bat of Zack Gelof (Rehoboth Beach, Del.). After Tappen’s RBI groundout, UConn starting pitcher Ben Casparius sat down 11-consecutive Virginia batters and struck out six in 5.2 innings.
The second game of the three-game set is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday (Feb. 20). The Cavaliers will send out righthander Griff McGarry (Portola Vally, Calif.) and he will be opposed by righty Joe Simeone. The middle game will air live on ACCNX.
- Virginia improved to 13-5 on opening day under Head Coach Brian O’Connor
- Marc Lebreux (Montreal, Canada) extended his reached base streak to 16 games with a single in the third inning. He also scored the eventual game-winning run.
- The Cavaliers opened their season at home for the first time since 2009.
- Virginia improves to 5-2 all-time against UConn and 2-0 under O’Connor.
- The nine strikeouts by Abbott are the most by a Virginia pitcher on opening day since Danny Hultzen fanned 10 against UAB 10 years ago to the day.