Hoping to avoid a series sweep, the Virginia baseball team planned to lean on the arm of junior star Mike Vasil. The right-handed pitcher entered the game with an ERA of 0.49 and a 3-0 record in Sunday starts.
The plan went awry almost immediately.
Vasil recorded just four outs and allowed a three-run home run Sunday before exiting the game with lower back pain.
“He was dealing with a back issue that he’s had for the last three days or so,” head coach Brian O’Connor said postgame. “We were hoping that it would loosen up and he would be fine, and it just didn’t.”
With the usually steady Vasil out, UVa’s bullpen struggled with consistency. The bats sputtered, too.
In the end, UVa (7-8, 2-7 ACC) lost to No. 25 Notre Dame (7-2, 7-2 ACC) by the final score of 8-3. For the first time since Miami took down the Cavaliers three consecutive times in April 2019, the Cavaliers were swept at home by an ACC foe.
Vasil gave up a three-run home run to Notre Dame’s senior infielder Niko Kavadas in the top of the first inning. The lefty ripped an opposite field homer to give the Fighting Irish an early edge. Vasil felt discomfort in his back from the very first batter. He tried to stretch out while on the mound, but it didn’t work.
“Certainly unfortunate because he’s been our guy,” O’Connor said. “He’s done a terrific job on Sunday, but you can’t do anything about that. Certainly that stretched our bullpen thin.”
Virginia’s bullpen actually kept it in the game in the immediate aftermath of Vasil’s exit, holding the Fighting Irish scoreless in the second, third and fourth innings.
The Wahoos bounced back in the third inning when freshman designated hitter Kyle Teel launched a home run over the fence in right-center field. Later in the frame, senior outfielder Christian Hlinka knocked an RBI single to right field to cut the deficit to 3-2.
UVa never got closer than the one run deficit.
Notre Dame scored twice in the fifth, and while UVa answered with an RBI double from freshman Jake Gelof in the bottom of the inning, the Cavaliers still ended the frame down 5-3.
“A great team, like Notre Dame did to us this weekend, they pulled away,” O’Connor said. “That’s where we’ve got to be better and more consistent.”
Senior Jared Miller ripped a home run off UVa closer Stephen Schoch in the top of the seventh inning, and junior Zack Prajzner took Schoch deep again in the top of the eighth. Miller enjoyed his weekend series, tallying eight hits and four RBIs over the three games against Virginia. The two solo home runs for the Fighting Irish extended Notre Dame’s lead to 7-3 after eight.
Schoch, who entered the game for UVa in the fifth inning, tossed three innings and allowed the two earned runs in a non-save situation.
Junior Brooks Coetzee added an RBI single in the ninth inning for Notre Dame. Coetzee went 3-5 on Sunday, driving in two runs. As a team, Notre Dame scored 30 runs over the weekend series.
UVa went down quietly in the ninth.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” redshirt senior catcher Logan Michaels, who went 4-4 with four singles Sunday, said. “I hate losing. Everybody does.”
The Cavaliers look to return to the win column Wednesday when they host Towson at 4 p.m.