Abbott Dominates As Virginia Baseball Deals No-Hitter, Crushes Wake Forest 17-0

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The Virginia baseball team celebrates a no-hitter and 17-0 victory over ACC-rival Wake Forest. ~ Photo credit: Virginia Athletics Media Relations

In his final game at Disharoon Park, Andrew Abbott turned in one of the all-time great performances from a University of Virginia pitcher. The senior lefty struck out 16 of the 24 Wake Forest batters he faced in 7.1 innings of work, spearheading the seventh no-hitter in school history as UVA crushed the Demon Deacons, 17-0.

True freshman Jake Berry completed the eighth inning and senior Griff McGarry pitched the ninth to secure the combined no hitter. Abbott, Berry and McGarry combined to strikeout 20 hitters. Abbott’s 16 Ks were the most by an ACC pitcher this season, and now he stands third all-time in school history in strikeouts, nine behind second-place Seth Greisinger.

“Obviously to be a part of a no hitter is something that’s really, really special,” said Brian O’Connor, who has been head coach for five of Virginia’s seven no-hitters. “The entire team, they’ll remember that for the rest of their lives, but certainly those three pitchers. Abbott was just amazing. To see him do what he did tonight in his last game in our uniform (at Disharoon Park) was really, really special. Jake (Berry) did a nice job and then to see Griff (McGarry) out there, he pitched excellent to secure it. When something like that happens it’s a total team effort. Kyle Teel did a great job behind the plate, blocking pitches and running the game. Defensively some guys made some nice plays. It’s a great accomplishment by our team and everybody involved. So, really proud of the guys.”

Abbott, who struck out 14 of the first 17 batters he faced, felt good in warmups but said he knew he was in top form in “the second inning after I K’d the six-straight guys. I was thinking to myself, okay, I got my good stuff going. They’re not picking it up so let’s just keep it going as long as I can. Try to work quick innings but try to get outs, and that was the focus. It worked out in the end. Gave my team the best shot to win and we came away with the victory.”

Squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble, Virginia, now 23-21 overall and 14-17 in the ACC, needs wins in its final two ACC series against Wake Forest and Boston College. Friday’s effort was a great all-around effort and potential spark as the Hoos look to close strong.

While the Cavalier pitchers held Wake Forest hitless, UVA’s hitters pounded out 17 runs on 14 hits. After a scoreless first inning, the Hoos put two runs on the board in the second, both courtesy of wild pitches from Wake ace Ryan Cusick. In the fourth, Zack Gelof scored from second on a Max Cotier single and Brendan Rivoli smacked a 2-run homerun to push Virginia’s lead to 5-0 and remove Cusick from the game. The Cavaliers then pounded the Wake Forest bullpen to the tune of 12 runs combined in the fifth and sixth innings to break the game wide open.

“Obviously we had a great offensive performance, too,” O’Connor said. “Their starter is as-advertised. He’s got a really good arm. He’s got a good breaking ball. You can see why he’s projected to go so high in the draft. I felt like our guys did a really terrific job.”

Centerfielder Chris Newell posted a game-high three RBIs and was one of four Cavalier hitters with two hits, joining the aforementioned Gelof, Cotier and Rivoli. Newell and Jake Gelof recorded triples for the Hoos. Zach Gelof crushed a 2-run homer – his sixth homerun of the season – as part of his 2-hit performance. Virginia drew 12 walks and racked up five stolen bases on the night.

Virginia has won the opening game of its last four ACC series. Just as they were against Virginia Tech in the previous series, the Hoos were dominant in the opening game against Wake. Two more games remain against the Demon Deacons, beginning with Saturday’s 6 p.m. EST showdown that will pit UVA righthanded junior Mike Vasil (6-5) versus Wake righty Rhett Lowder (3-2).

“[The Virginia players] understand the situation that we’re in,” O’Connor said. “They understand that we’ve got to win every league game that we can, and in order to do that we’ve got to come out and play tough and be aggressive and execute. So to respond tonight like we did was great to see. Now we’ve to turn our attention to game two and come out and play good baseball again.”

More From UVA’s Win Over Wake Forest: Abbott’s Exit

Given the pitch count, O’Connor says he knew in the sixth inning that Abbott would not go the distance. The senior from Republican Grove, Virginia had just one request.

“He had asked to face one batter, which I thought was really, really great,” O’Connor said.

“I said let me go out there and let me get one more out, and then you can take me out,” Abbott said. “I just want to walk and wave to the fans as my goodbye.”

Abbott recorded strikeout number 16 against the final batter he faced. Then, as planned, he departed the game. He received a standing ovation from the home crowd and his teammates.

“I’m just so proud of him,” O’Connor said. “You wish there were 5,000 people in the stands so so many people could enjoy it. You think about where Andrew Abbott was last June and his return here and his commitment to be a starter, his commitment to develop all of his pitches. He believed in himself and went out there and worked hard and earned it. To see him be able to walk off the field like that at home is really, really special. Really, really proud of him.”

“Emotional, definitely,” Abbott said of his exit in the eighth. “It was hard to keep it back, guys giving me hugs and stuff on the mound. Just reminiscing, slowing down the heartbeat, saying well, I’m done, this is it for the Disharoon career. Just taking that breath in and seeing the fans standing ovation and stuff like that, it’s always hard to fight back tears and teammates and stuff. They wanted me to tip the cap, so I did that for ‘em. Just realizing the good fan base that we have here, the team coming together at the right time, playing good baseball. A lot of things are clicking in a positive way and just hope that this game, along with others that we’ve won in the past, can push us into the postseason.”

McGarry Closes Out

Griff McGarry, who began the season as a regular starter but struggled, struck out the side in the ninth. The righty discussed what capping off the no-hitter meant to him.

“Definitely meant a lot,” McGarry said. “Being able to close that out for Andrew was definitely a very emotion-filled moment. We’ve been roommates the past three years and I’m glad I was able to do that and help him achieve such a big thing.”

Of McGarry, O’Connor said: “If he can throw the ball like that, that’s a game-changer for us. Most importantly, I was excited to see that for our team.”

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