Healthy Lewicki Adds Depth to UVa Pitching Staff

Two seasons ago, Artie Lewicki was arguably the best pitcher on the Virginia baseball team's staff; the No. 2 starter on a team that won 39 games, and hosted an NCAA Regional.

Now, Lewicki is happy to help any way he can.

Injuries have derailed the senior right-hander the past two seasons. He missed practically all of last year after Tommy John surgery on his pitching arm. This year, Lewicki missed more than a month because of an oblique injury.

But since returning from that injury last week, Lewicki has been lights-out -- six shutout innings in two appearances, with just a pair of baserunners allowed. On Tuesday, Lewicki came out of the UVa bullpen to throw three hitless innings and strike out five in a 9-3 win at James Madison.

"Yeah, I feel like I'm definitely healthy again," Lewicki said following Tuesday's win. "It feels good to get back out there, get two consistent outings in a row, pain-free. So it feels good."

Lewicki is 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA in four appearances this season, with 12 strikeouts and just one walk. He was hitting 92 to 94 miles-per hour on the radar gun with his fastball on Tuesday night at JMU.

"With Artie being healthy, it's a huge shot in the arm for us," said UVa coach Brian O'Connor. "He's a high-quality pitcher. We all know what he did for us a couple of years ago, two years ago. I thought he was our best pitcher down the stretch, at the end of the year. So it's good to see him back out there, two weeks in a row, and throwing the ball good. And I think he'll continue to progress."

Lewicki started 13 games for UVa in 2012, primarily as the No. 2 starter behind Branden Kline. His 77.2 innings pitched were second on the team, and he finished the 4-3 with a 3.82 ERA. In ACC play, Lewicki went 3-1 with a 2.87 ERA in 10 appearances, including nine starts.

UVa's weekend rotation seems set this season, with a trio of sophomores -- Nathan Kirby, Josh Sborz, and Brandon Waddell -- a combined 13-3. Freshman Alec Bettinger -- 4-0 with a 0.78 ERA after four shutout innings en route to the win at JMU on Tuesday -- has emerged as the team's primary mid-week starter.

But adding a healthy Lewicki makes a deep UVa staff that much deeper. And Lewicki is prepared to pitch in whenever his services are required.

"I think every role on this team is just as valuable as the next," he said Tuesday. "I feel like everybody contributes equally. But I'll be happy if I can contribute down the road."

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