FORT WORTH, Tx. – The Virginia baseball team opened NCAA tournament play Saturday evening with a 6-3 victory over Dallas Baptist in the first game of the NCAA Fort Worth Regional at Lupton Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas. After having an entire day of play rained out Friday and then sitting through a four-hour weather delay Saturday, Virginia (43-14) jumped to a 3-0 edge in the third inning and never trailed.
UVA advances to the winners’ bracket and plays the winner of the late game between No. 6 national seed TCU and Central Connecticut State on Sunday at 5 p.m. ET/4 p.m. CT. DBU plays an elimination game at 1 p.m. Sunday against the losing team from the TCU/CCSU matchup.
Television broadcast designations for Sunday will be made after the conclusion of play on Saturday. All games in the tournament will be streamed online via ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app. WINA Radio (1070-AM/98.9-FM) has the live radio broadcast for all UVA games in the regional.
Virginia starting pitcher Derek Casey (Jr., Mechanicsville, Va.) matched a career high by working seven innings, allowing three runs, six hits and no walks while striking out three. Facing a potent DBU lineup that ranks among the nation’s leaders in home runs, he surrendered three long balls, but each was to lead off an inning. The Patriots (40-20) did not have a hit with runners on base, going 0-for-7.
“I’m really proud of our club,” Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor said. “So proud of Derek. Really, he was tremendous. Best outing of the year. Best outing of his career, really. He picked a great time for it.
“Certainly, Dallas Baptist is the kind of team that you play that you are on the edge of your seat pitching to those guys because they have so many threats that can hit the ball out of the ballpark, and they’re very aggressive, and I thought Derek did a tremendous job. Even though they got three home runs, they were all solo home runs, and just kind of limited the damage.”
Casey (5-2) earned the win, while Alec Bettinger (Sr., Woodbridge, Va.) and Tommy Doyle (Jr., Vienna, Va.) shut out the Patriots over the final two innings. Doyle notched his 14th save with a scoreless ninth inning. DBU starter Jordan Martinson (9-4) took the loss after working 4 2/3 innings and allowing six runs (five earned), six hits and three walks with three strikeouts.
Half of Virginia’s 10 hits and four of its six runs came from the bottom two in its batting order – three hits and two runs from eight-hole hitter Justin Novak (Jr., Tokyo, Japan) and two hits and a pair of runs from nine-hole hitter Andy Weber (So., Aurora, Ohio). Robbie Coman (Gr., Lake Worth, Fla.) added a key two-run double.
Virginia struck for three runs in the third inning. The first three Cavaliers singled, with Novak, Weber and Ernie Clement (Jr., Rochester, N.Y.) reaching base, and Novak came home as Clement’s single to right was bobbled by right fielder Evan Sandmann. Clement stole second, and Jake McCarthy (So., Scranton, Pa.) and Adam Haseley (Jr., Windermere, Fla.) hit consecutive run-scoring grounders to first base for a 3-0 lead.
DBU got leadoff homers from Jameson Hannah and Tim Millard in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively, to cut the lead to 3-2, but UVA countered with its second three-run inning in its half of the fifth while knocking Martinson from the game.
After UVA put runners on the corners to start the inning, Clement hit a sac fly to center. One out later, Haseley and Pavin Smith (Jr., Jupiter, Fla.) worked back-to-back walks, both following nine-pitch at bats, to load the bases. Reliever Dalton Higgins took over, but Coman lined a 1-2 pitch off the top of the left-field wall, scoring a pair for a 6-2 lead.
DBU’s Garrett Wolforth led off the eighth with a home run, spelling the end of the night for Casey. The Patriots put two on with two outs in the ninth against Doyle, but he fanned Camden Duzanack to end the game.