Through two fall baseball games, Virginia remains focused on developing its team, especially the underclassmen, for the spring.
The Cavaliers’ young stars stole the show in Monday’s win over the Ontario Blue Jays, as Zack Gelof led the way with his second home run in as many fall games.
Gelof launched a second-inning bomb as the Cavaliers cruised to a 17-3 win over Ontario. He also homered in Friday’s 11-3 win over Liberty.
“He had a really good year for us last year,” Virginia coach Brian O’Connor said. “He’s more physical. He’s stronger this year. He worked hard over the summer. I believe he’s going to be able to hit in the middle of our order and drive in even more runs.”
Gelof earned 2018 Delaware Gatorade Player of the Year honors as a high school senior, and the sophomore performed well in his freshman campaign at Virginia. He hit .313 in 56 games and added 16 stolen bases. His added strength is leading to added power through a pair of fall games.
Mike Vasil, a sophomore pitcher, started Monday’s game for UVa and struck out the side. Virginia’s young pitchers performed adequately against the Blue Jays.
In high school, Vasil was named the 2017 Massachusetts Player of the Year. The talented right-handed pitcher struggled in limited action last season, posting a 5.93 ERA in 57 2/3 innings. He fits the mold of a potential breakout candidate this upcoming season
» Virginia opens its 2020 season in Florida for the inaugural “Wahoos Classic.” The event will take place from Feb. 14-16 in Pensacola, and the Cavaliers will host Oklahoma for a three-game series at Blue Wahoos Stadium. The ballpark is normally the home to the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, who are the Double-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins.
» Virginia played a predetermined 12 innings against Liberty on Friday, but only played 9½ innings Monday because rain delayed the start by about an hour.
» Evan Sleight recorded a pair of extra-base hits in Monday’s victory. The freshman comes to UVa from Massachusetts and gives Virginia’s lineup another quality left-handed hitter.
» Freshman pitcher Jake Hodorovich looked strong in relief during the later innings of the game. The right-handed thrower joins a talented staff and may have to wait a year or more to get significant playing time, but the Pennsylvania product switches speeds nicely and featured a fastball around 90 mph.
» O’Connor mentioned after Monday’s game that Andrew Abbott, Devin Ortiz and Paul Kosanovich won’t pitch this fall. All three players are healthy, but the Cavaliers are giving them a chance to focus on lifting and keeping their arms fresh.
» The Blue Jays’ roster is comprised of 16-, 17- and 18-year-old baseball players within the Ontario Blue Jays baseball academy. The organization has five different academy teams with players in the high school age range.» The players on the Ontario roster travel through Canada and the United States during the fall months to play against top collegiate competition. In addition to Virginia, this team faces other notable opponents such as Florida State and the Arizona Diamondbacks’ scout team.
» Ontario and Virginia have played against each other for years, and O’Connor mentioned the recruiting benefit of playing the team of high-school athletes. Former UVa shortstop Daniel Pinero, who played on the 2015 national championship team, played for the Ontario Blue Jays in a game against UVa before eventually joining the Cavaliers. “We played against him, and after the game told the coach that we wanted the kid to visit,” O’Connor said. “Two weeks later after we played them in a game he committed to Virginia and had a great career here.”