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Greenville Regional notebook: Virginia's pitching is 'in really good shape' heading into elimination game

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Virginia baseball coach Brian O'Connor.

GREENVILLE, N.C. – The good news is Virginia coach Brian O’Connor said he believes his pitching is still lined up favorably for Sunday.

“I think we’re in really good shape,” he said Saturday night after the Cavaliers’ loss to East Carolina in the winner’s bracket game of the Greenville Regional.

UVa squares off with Coastal Carolina in an elimination contest at 1 p.m., and the Hoos will start sophomore left-hander Jake Berry (5-3, 4.67), who was the team’s Sunday starter in the back half of the campaign.

Through the first two games of the regional, UVa has gotten length from its starting pitchers. Nate Savino worked into the seventh on Friday and Brian Gursky pitched into the sixth on Saturday, so O’Connor and Dickinson have had to only use a total of four relievers — Jay Woolfolk and Matt Wyatt behind Savino and Dylan Bowers and Brandon Neeck behind Gursky.

“We’re in a great situation,” O’Connor said. “And we’ve got a lot of guys that have pitched great ball games for us all year long and haven’t toed the rubber yet and they’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”

UVa’s hitting tactics prompted Godwin’s change

East Carolina coach Cliff Godwin decided to pull accomplished reliever Carter Spivey in the ninth inning when he noticed a familiar trend from Virginia’s hitters – going the other way with the pitch to record base hits to extend the game.

Godwin needed someone who could counter the Cavaliers’ approach, so he called on Zach Agnos.

“What they did to Spivey,” Godwin said of UVa tallying consecutive singles to put runners on first and second in the ninth, “that’s because of [Cavaliers associate head coach Kevin McMullan].

“Coach Mac taught me how to hit,” Godwin said, “and we do kind of the same thing offensively that they do, and so when Zach came in we had to flip our process. Zach has a really good changeup and they were sitting on the changeup. We had to throw more fastballs to lefties than what he had in the past and Zach did a good job executing those pitches.”

Agnos struck out left-handed hitting Chris Newell and Max Cotier to end the game.

McMullan was an assistant ECU when Godwin played there.

Chants’ McDermott hits for cycle

Third-seeded Coastal Carolina avoided elimination on Saturday afternoon with a 10-8 victory against No. 4-seed Coppin State, thanks in large part to senior second baseman Matt McDermott.

McDermott, a William & Mary transfer, led the Chanticleers by hitting for the cycle. In his 4-for-4 performance, he singled in the third inning and doubled in the fourth before smacking a solo homer to left in the sixth. McDermott polished off the feat with a two-run triple in the eighth. He finished 4-for-4 with three RBI and scored two runs.

Chris Rowan Jr. also homered for Coastal Carolina.

The Chanticleers move on to meet UVa in Sunday’s win-or-go-home game. Coppin State, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion, scored six runs in the ninth to pull within two, but Coastal ultimately escaped the jam with two Eagles on base. Coppin State completed its season with a 24-30 mark.

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