Wednesday's slate featured one game between Top 25 teams as No. 1 Virginia hosted No. 22 Liberty, both of which were returning to action for the first time after taking a week off for exams.
The Cavaliers shook off the rust quickly, jumping out to a 5-0 lead after three innings and cruising from there to an 8-2 win. Junior third baseman Kenny Towns led the Virginia offense, driving in three runs and going 2-for-4 on the night, his two-run single in the third capping off a three-run rally. Mike Papi (2-for-4, RBI) and Nate Irving (2-for-3, 2B, RBI) also had multi-hit games as the Cavs outhit the Flames 9-4. On other side, Liberty could get nothing going against UVa. senior righty Artie Lewicki (7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K), whose seven innings pitched matched the longest outing of his career. The lone hit Lewicki allowed was one-out single in the fourth, and he went on to retire the final 11 hitters he faced.
"Tonight we were as opportunistic as we’ve been for quite some time," Cavs head coach Brian O'Connor said in a release. "It was great to see. Our players trusted the plan tonight and a lot of guys did a great job with two strikes, battling and putting balls in play. Coming out of final exams and not playing a game in seven days, you’re always a little anxious about how we’re going to come out, but certainly tonight we did well."
This was a game Liberty could have used to further boost its regional hosting candidacy. The Flames entered the week at No. 22 in the NCAA's official RPI, and with the loss dropped to 5-3 against the Top 50. Their series at home against No. 194 Coastal Carolina this weekend won't help matters, especially if they don't sweep it.
Other Top 25 Results
Florida Gulf Coast at (8) Miami: The Hurricanes won for the 22nd time in their last 24 games, taking down FGCU, the second-place team in the Atlantic Sun, by a 7-3 score. Tyler Palmer paced Miami's 12-hit attack with a 3-for-5 effort, one of four Canes hitters to record multiple hits. The Canes also got back third baseman Johnny Ruiz after missing nine games with a labrum issue. Ruiz came off the bench in the third inning and finished the game 1-for-2.
Houston Baptist at (14) Rice: Rice came out of its own 10-day exam break to beat Houston Baptist 6-1. Skyler Ewing (2-for-3) hit his seventh homer of the season, part of a 13-hit night for the Owls offense in support of Chase McDowell (6.2 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2K), who picked up his fourth win of the year.
Wofford at (17) South Carolina: Coming off a disappointing series loss to Georgia, the Gamecocks took out their frustrations on Wofford, mashing their way to a 15-1 win. Grayson Greiner (2-for-3) and Joey Pankake (1-for-2) each homered for South Carolina, which used a couple of a couple of huge innings—a five-run third and six-run sixth—to build its lead.
Stony Brook senior first baseman Kevin Courtney hit for the cycle as the Seawolves beat New York Tech 15-4. Courtney hit a three-run homer in the first, singled in the fourth, tripled in the sixth and finished the cycle with a double in the ninth. For good measure, he also mixed in another single in the seventh, finishing the game 5-for-6.
A quick rundown of how bubble teams (as listed on Aaron Fitt's latest Stock Report) fared Wednesday. Bubble teams are listed in bold.
Central Florida def. Florida Atlantic 4-1
North Carolina def. Elon 12-6
Richmond def. N.C. State 7-4
Maryland def. Towson 4-3
Missouri State def. Kansas 5-3
Clemson def. High Point 1-0
South Florida def. Florida International 6-4
Belmont def. Evansville 11-7
Indiana State def. Ball State 9-7