At one time 26-3 and a top three team in the country, Virginia's season has come to an abrupt end, short of an appearance in the regional final in the NCAA Baseball Tournament. Behind a pair of home runs from Jake Gelof, the Cavaliers raced out to a 6-0 lead, but Coastal Carolina scored six unanswered runs to tie the game and then a walk-off RBI single from Christopher Rowan Jr. in the bottom of the ninth spelled the end of UVA's season as Coastal won 7-6 on Sunday afternoon at Clark-LeClair Stadium.
The first half of the game could not have gone better for Brian O'Connor and the Cavaliers. With the season on the line, Virginia turned to 6'10" lefty Jake Berry on the bump and Berry delivered a stellar performance through the first four innings, retiring 12 of the first 15 batters he faced and recording four strikeouts.
Meanwhile, the UVA offense, and mainly Jake Gelof, gave Berry plenty of run support early in the game. In the top of the first, Kyle Teel doubled, moved to third on a wild pitch, and then scored on a single from Alex Tappen. Virginia had a chance to add to the lead as Gelof and Saucke drew back-to-back walks to load the bases, but Coastal starter Michael Knorr got Ethan Anderson to ground into a double play to end the first inning.
In the top of the third inning, Tappen got on board with a single and then Jake Gelof smashed a two-run home run to left field to give him his 77th and 78th RBI of the season, tying and breaking Pavin Smith's UVA single-season RBI record.
Two innings later, Gelof did it again, hammering a three-run bomb deep over the left field fence for his 21st home run of the season, which gave Virginia a commanding 6-0 lead.
Perhaps already looking ahead to a potential rematch against East Carolina in the regional final, the wheels started to come off in the fifth inning. Berry struggled with location to start the fifth, walking the first two batters before giving up an RBI single to Kameron Guangorena. Berry was replaced on the mound by Dylan Bowers, who simply did not have his stuff today, walking two batters and hitting a third, allowing two runs to score. Virginia brought in Paul Kosanovich, who got UVA out of the jam with a grounder resulting in a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning with the Cavaliers leading 6-3.
The next inning, the rest of UVA's lead evaporated on a pair of Coastal home runs. Nick Lucky led off with a solo home run and then Graham Brown hit a two-run home run to left field to tie the game. Kosanovich pitched into the seventh inning, but an error and a walk put two runners on for the Chanticleers as they looked to take the lead. UVA inserted Matt Wyatt, who got Dale Thomas to hit into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play to keep it at 6-6.
The UVA bats could not beat Coastal's bullpen the rest of the way, managing just two hits in the last three innings of the game.
In the bottom of the ninth, Austin White hit a leadoff single up the middle and represented the winning run on first base. White moved to second on a bunt and then came around to score on a walk-off single by Christopher Rowan Jr.
Coastal Carolina advances to the regional final and will face East Carolina, needing to beat the Pirates twice (on Sunday night and Monday afternoon) in order to advance to the Super Regional.
Virginia's season comes to an end as the Cavaliers are eliminated from the Greenville Regional. UVA finished the season with an overall record of 39-19. The loss also ended the collegiate careers of several Virginia seniors, including fifth-years Devin Ortiz and Alex Tappen.
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