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UVA Goes 3-0 in Regionals, Hosts Kansas State in Super Regionals

UVA Goes 3-0 in Regionals, Hosts Kansas State in Super Regionals

By Josh Burton

The University of Virginia Baseball team made quick work of their regional, picking up an opening win over Penn before beating Mississippi State on back to back days to advance to yet another Super Regional. Because Kansas State won the Fayetteville Region (Arkansas hosted), the Hoos will get to host supers.

Super Regionals are a best of 3 series, with the winner advancing to the College World Series in Omaha. The first game will be Friday night (6/7) at 7 pm and on ESPNU. Saturday and Sunday (if necessary) would both be played at 3 pm, with Saturday's contest already scheduled for ESPNU. But before we get too far ahead, let's take a look back at some key takeaways for how the Hoos got here. 

Charlottesville Regional

The regional went about as well as you could hope for as a Wahoo fan, with the Hoos only having to play the minimum three games necessary to advance. All three games were tightly contested, however, and the Cavaliers found a different way to win compared to how they have for most of the year… they relied on excellent all-around pitching and key defensive plays to go along with some timely hitting.

In the first game against Penn Joe Savino got the start and was very good, going 5-2/3 innings while only giving up 2 runs on 3 hits. Also good news for the Hoos was Savino having his highest pitch count of the season, reaching 97. Bullpen leader Chase Hungate came in in relief of Savino and pitched over 3 innings of one-hit ball to secure the 4-2 win for the Hoos.

Game two against Mississippi State was the tightest of the weekend, with Bobby Whalen getting the walk off for a huge 5-4 UVA victory. Cavalier Ace Evan Blanco got the start in this one, and battled 6 innings only giving up 3 earned runs (his throwing error on a pick off to second allowed MSU’s only other run). Evan was very good, as expected, but the real story of the game was first-year reliever Matt Augustin. Matt was able to go 2-2/3 for the Hoos giving up just 2 hits and zero runs on 54 pitches. His development as a dependable long reliever in high stakes situations is pivotal for a team that has struggled to find solid play on the mound this season. 



Sensing a trend here? Well, Sunday’s effort by starter Jay Woolfolk was the most impressive of the entire weekend. Jay has had the talent since he first stepped on the mound as a Hoo, but has struggled with consistency in putting together strings of solid innings. That all changed in the biggest starting appearance he’s had while on Grounds, going 8 innings of 2-run ball while throwing 103 pitches. Jay was named Regional MVP for his efforts. His development as a dependable starter for the Hoos is the biggest storyline going forward. If he can put together more outings looking even remotely close to what he was able to accomplish on Sunday, watch out.



Charlottesville Super Regional

As mentioned earlier, this weekend the Hoos will host the Kansas State Wildcats in a three game series where the winner will advance to Omaha. What once looked murky with pitching for the Hoos now appears very clear. Expect Blanco, Woolfolk and Savino to be the three starters for the weekend (game 3 is if necessary). Behind them watch for Augustin to try and build on his strong performance last weekend and for Hungate to assume closer duties. 

On the other side of the ball, it looks as though Kansas State starting pitching will go Left/Right/Right over the weekend. Because of this, look for Coach O’Connor and the Hoos to play the matchups. I’m expecting Bobby Whalen to bat second in the lineup Friday night and for Luke Hanson to get the start at third base. Starting Saturday, however, I expect the red-hot bat of Eric Becker to be back in the lineup and playing third base. This would allow track with how the Hoos handled their matchups in the regional rounds.

For the Hoos to advance, the bats will almost assuredly have to be better than they were this past weekend. On the weekend the Hoos totaled 23 hits and 18 runs, with 7 of those runs coming in the 9th inning of the final contest on Sunday. UVA has been a top 10 offense nationally all season and will need more support from its bats to make Omaha. 


Should the Hoos win the Super Regional, they’ll be going to the College World Series for the seventh time in fifteen seasons. But there’s a lot of baseball to be played before then in what will be a sellout weekend at the Dish. Be sure to follow along on Locker Room Access!

(Featured Image Credit: Josie Drumheller/UVA Athletics)

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