Sunday at Disharoon Park was a roller coaster of emotions for the Virginia baseball program. As was the case all weekend long, weather delays had a chaotic effect on the series schedule, forcing the second game of the series to be played at 10am on Sunday. Before the game began, UVA honored its fourth and fifth years in a senior day celebration. Perhaps the distractions of the weekend were too much for the Cavaliers, who gave up three runs to Clemson in the first inning and went on to lose 8-2.
The nice part of a doubleheader for the losing team is that there is no time to dwell on the defeat, for there is an immediate opportunity for redemption. That was not the case this time. Instead, there was yet another lengthy weather delay for lightning in the area and the Cavaliers were faced with the prospect of not even getting the opportunity to salvage the series, as the rubber match was delayed further and further into the night.
Finally, the teams were able to take the field and begin game 3 at 8:30pm and the Cavaliers took full advantage of the opportunity to rectify their loss from earlier in the day, as No. 12 Virginia beat Clemson 6-3 to clinch the series on Sunday night at Disharoon Park in UVA's final home game of the regular season.
In the first two games of the series, Clemson put up three runs in the top of the first inning both times. The Cavaliers managed to recover to win game 1, but were unable to do so again in their loss in game 2. UVA kept Clemson off the board in the first inning in the finale on Sunday night, but the Tigers still drew first blood in the top of the second as Virginia starter Jake Berry walked a batter, threw a wild pitch, and then gave up an RBI single to Camden Troyer.
Virginia got on the board in the bottom of the third inning as Casey Saucke hit a leadoff double, moved to third on a bunt, and then scored on a wild pitch by Clemson starter Billy Barlow.
In the fourth, Virginia took the lead as Ethan Anderson pulled a ball that just barely snuck over the fence in right field for a two-run home run, giving the Cavaliers a 3-1 lead.
In the fifth inning, a single from Griff O'Ferrall and a double by Max Cotier knocked Barlow out of the game. The Tigers went to freshman reliever Jay Dill, who gave up an RBI ground out to Alex Tappen and then a bomb of a two-run home run to left center by none other than Jake Gelof.
The homer was Gelof's 18th long ball of the season and gave him 71 RBI for the year, second-most in a single season in UVA history, trailing only Pavin Smith, who had 77 RBI in 2017.
The Virginia pitching staff held Clemson off the board from the third through the eighth inning, even as the Tigers out-hit the Cavaliers. Clemson had 10 hits but stranded 10 runners on base, as compared to UVA, who scored six runs on just six hits and left only two runners on base.
Jake Berry ended up going 3.2 innings, giving up one earned run on four hits and striking out four batters. Paul Kosanovich delivered a brilliant performance out of the bullpen, recording four strikeouts and yielding just two hits and no runs through 3.1 innings of work.
Jay Woolfolk pitched the eighth inning, which ended on a superb 6-4-3 double play.
For the fans who stuck around through the weather to see the conclusion of the game, which did not happen until close to midnight, the Cavaliers were nice enough to give the crowd some drama in the top of the ninth.
Woolfolk gave up a solo home run to Bryar Hawkins and was immediately pulled in favor of Brandon Neeck. Neeck struck out two of the next three batters, but gave up a triple to Troyer in between. A wild pitch from Neeck allowed Troyer to score to make it 6-3 and then Neeck surrendered a single and a walk to bring the tying run to the plate.
Satisfied that whatever UVA fans were still paying attention to the game were officially nervous, the Cavaliers finally shut the door as Neeck struck out Blake Wright looking on the eighth pitch of the at-bat, bringing the game, and the series, mercifully to an end.
Virginia improves to 37-13 overall and 16-11 in ACC play. UVA concluded its slate of home regular season games with an impressive record of 29-5 at Disharoon Park.
As Virginia enters the final week of the college baseball regular season, a strong finish is crucial for the Cavaliers as they try to host an NCAA regional. Given the drastic disparity between Virginia's play at home versus on the road - UVA is 29-5 at home and 6-8 away - hosting a regional at Disharoon Park will be pivotal for the Cavaliers' success in the NCAA Tournament.
UVA will look to end the regular season on a high note as the Cavaliers head to Louisville for a three-game series against the No. 7-ranked Cardinals (35-15-1, 16-10-1 ACC). Game 1 is set for 6pm on Thursday in Louisville.
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