Cayman Richardson was tasked with bunting the two baserunners on and no one out in a tied game in the fifth inning.
Three innings prior, he’d looped what looked to be a bloop RBI single before it was snagged by the shortstop’s great catch. This time around, his two bunt attempts failed badly. It made sense to bunt — UVa’s previous six ACC games were decided by one run and this game was trending the same way.
But after his bunts failed, Richardson finally broke through with an RBI single into the gap. And after that, the floodgates finally opened for the Cavaliers, who scored six runs that inning before the second out. It was the difference in UVa’s 8-6 win over Georgia Tech on Friday at Disharoon Park.
It was an offensive parade for a Virginia team that desperately needs to basically run the table to improve its NCAA Tournament chances. Tanner Morris finished 4-for-4, Andy Weber had three RBI and everyone in the order had at least one hit.
Derek Casey went 7 1/3 innings, striking out five and allowing three runs (two inherited) and four walks. It was important for him to go deep with Noah Murdock — a starter limited with his pitch count likely limited — getting the start Saturday. Casey was going up against the lineup with the second-best batting average in the ACC, and pitched a masterfully.
After that RBI single from Richardson in the fifth, Weber hit an RBI triple in the gap. Alex Tappen ripped an RBI single. Then, on the next pitch, Cameron Comer hit his team-leading fourth home run of the season. In an instant, it was 7-1.
There were some tenuous moments. The very first batter of the game reached on an errant throw from UVa third baseman Justin Novak. Five straight GT batters reached in the eighth over three pitchers. The last was on a throwing error from closer Andrew Abbott.
The Yellow Jackets would score four runs in that eighth inning. And with the tying run at the plate, Abbott struck out Jamie Taylor to end the inning that seemed like it never would.
Bennett Sousa closed out the game in the ninth inning. Typically, head coach Brian O’Connor will use one closer, Abbott, on Friday, and save Sousa for Saturdays. But there was a vital need for Virginia to win.
Sousa allowed a two-out home run, and then a two-out double. But he got Tristin English to strik eout on three pitches and give the Cavaliers a collective exhale.