Henry Godbout Lifts Virginia With Huge Home Run

Virginia Cavaliers Henry Godbout Henry Godbout shook off a couple of forgettable at-bats to hit the game-winning home run for Virginia. ~ Photo courtesy of Virginia Athletics Media Relations

Through his first two at-bats in the Super Regional, Virginia sophomore Henry Godbout would admit he was less than impressive.

Godbout struck out swinging both times against Kansas State starter Owen Boerema. Before going out again in the 6th inning with UVA still trailing 3-2, coach Brian O’Connor grabbed the second baseman in the batter’s box.

“Coach Oak, the at-bat before, was telling me you got to buckle up in the back half of the game and stay in it,” Godbout said.

In his first four years at Virginia, now decades ago, O’Connor admitted he might have yelled in those situations after two poor at-bats from the second-year player. But now with years of experience in the UVA dugout, he had a different approach.

“I reminded him that it’s not how the game starts, it’s how the game ends,” O’Connor said.

Godbout singled and later scored in the inning to give Virginia a 4-3 lead. He had something a little better still in store, though.

After Kansas State tied the ballgame at 4-4 in the seventh inning, Godbout provided the punctuation on the night with a 3-run home run to left field in the bottom half of the frame. The shot toward a jubilant and full set of bleachers was a no-doubter on contact.

“I kind of blacked out to be honest with you,” Godbout said. “It’s a pretty special moment.”

The home run from Godbout, paired with an excellent performance on the mound by starter Evan Blanco, lifted the Cavaliers to a series opening 7-4 win and put UVA one win away from clinching its seventh trip to the College World Series. The come-from-behind win has become a staple of this Virginia team, who now owns 23 comeback victories on the season, led by an offense typically capable of scoring a lot in a variety of ways.

On Friday night, the Hoos scored 7 runs on 9 hits without the need for their final half inning. Griff O’Ferrall and Harrison Didawick joined Godbout with extra-base hits, both doubles. O’Ferrall’s hit accounted for 2 RBI.

“The way we approach hitting it’s just one pitch, one at bat at a time,” Godbout said. “It really doesn’t matter if we’re down or up.”

The comeback has also defined Godbout’s second season with the Cavaliers. One of the hottest hitters in a loaded Virginia lineup to start the season, the sophomore suffered a foot injury against George Washington and later re-aggravated the injury during a weekend series against Miami. Godbout attempted to play through over the next few weeks, but his foot never healed.

The decision was then made for Godbout to sit out a 10-game stretch before returning in late April. Even then O’Connor decided to rest Godbout on back-to-back games.

“Certainly we missed him when he was out for a little bit this year,” O’Connor said. “But managing that situation the right way is what allows him to be healthy and ready to play the back part of the season and have a moment like he did tonight.”

As a 97-game starter in his two seasons in Charlottesville, any missed time was a new reality for Godbout. The extra time on the mend was not wasted though, as O’Connor describes the Brooklyn native as someone obsessed with his craft.

“I would keep my timing in the dugout,” Godbout said. “I would honestly pretend like I was playing, see pitches, and keep my timing, so when I got back I was able to step in and help the team.”

Despite missing some games, Godbout has seemed like a different hitter in year two, eclipsing his totals from last year in less time. The second baseman has hit .373 with 49 RBI and now 10 home runs, the fifth Cavalier this season with double-digit homers.

“You look at him physically and he’s a completely different player,” O’Connor said. “I grab his arms this year and it’s different than grabbing them last year and that’s work.”

Not seen as a power hitter as a freshman, Godbout is the only UVA player to hit a home run this postseason so far. Both 3-run blasts against Penn and now Kansas State came in big moments.

Just before Godbout’s at-bat, Kansas State was nearly in the clear with fresh out of the bullpen reliever Cole Wisenbaker almost forcing Harrison Didawick into a double play. A little hesitation by the Wildcats allowed Didawick to beat the throw at first, however, and brought up Godbout with 2 outs to face the sinker baller. The rest is history.

“That’s your approach against that style of pitching, see the ball up,” Kansas State coach Pete Hughes said. “He saw it and didn’t miss it.”

What could have been chalked up as an off night for an All-ACC performer, ended up being a redemption arc all in one game. Godbout forgot how the game started, but he will always remember how it ended, even if he “blacked out” rounding the bases in front of the Disharoon Park crowd.

“That’s kind of how the game goes sometimes,” Godbout said. “You’ve got to rally back from those types of at-bats and rely on our approach.”

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  1. By far the greatest player I ever umpire in my life and seen I called him at 9 years old the best to him and his Beautiful family Henry don’t forget me when you’re in the pros

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