The Virginia baseball team knew coming into NCAA Tournament Regional play that it would need quality starts from a depleted pitching staff to try to stay in the winner’s bracket and hopefully make it to the next round. The Cavaliers got that and more from Derek Casey on Saturday night.
Casey covered 7 innings while allowing only 3 earned runs in the Forth Worth, Texas regional opener. That effort helped propel the Hoos to a 6-3 victory against Dallas Baptist, moving them to the winner’s bracket game at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday. For a team likely missing weekend starters Adam Haseley and Noah Murdock and their 10 combined wins from the rotation, Casey’s outing proved to be a clutch performance in a critical spot for the team.
”So proud of Derek,” UVA coach Brian O’Connor said. “Really, he was tremendous. Best outing of the year. Best outing of his career, really. He picked a great time for it.”
Casey threw 99 pitches, 70 for strikes, to hold down a dangerous DBU team. The Patriots entered the regional hitting .304 as a team (29th nationally) with 441 runs scored (15th nationally) . Their hitters had produced 84 home runs (tied 5th nationally). While Dallas Baptist did send a trio of solo home runs sailing, Casey scattered 6 hits overall and allowed just those 3 runs. He forced 12 flyball outs.
That’s a solid bounce-back performance after he took the loss against Duke in the ACC Tournament. In that game, he allowed 4 runs in 5-1/3 innings. Alec Bettinger and Tommy Doyle pitched one inning each to close it out.
”Certainly, Dallas Baptist is the kind of team that you play that you are on the edge of your seat pitching to those guys,” O’Connor said, “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.”
The Cavaliers backed up Casey’s performance with 6 runs on 10 hits. That’s the 37th time this season that they’ve put up 6 runs or more with a 35-2 record in those games. Virginia jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third inning and then tacked on 3 more runs in the fifth inning after DBU had climbed back into a 3-2 game.
UVA’s infielders led the attack with 7 of the 10 hits. The bottom of the order provided the most punch as third baseman Justin Novak went 2 for 2 with 2 runs scored and second baseman Andy Weber went 3 for 4 with 2 runs scored. Shortstop Ernie Clement went 1-4 with 1 run scored and 1 RBI, while first baseman Pavin Smith added 1 hit as well.
Designated hitter Robbie Coman brought in two runs with a double in the fifth inning. Haseley and Jake McCarthy added 1 RBI each as well.