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Virginia Baseball sweeps weekend in walk-off fashion

Hoos keep NCAA Regionals hopes alive with sweep of Demon Deacons

Virginia Media Relations (Matt Riley)

With just two series remaining in the regular season, and the Hoos squarely on the NCAA Regional bubble, Virginia desperately needed a series win (if not a sweep). After a no-hitter and offensive explosion on Friday night, the Hoos delivered Saturday and Sunday with a pair of walk-off wins over Wake Forest.

On Saturday night, Wake Forest jumped on Mike Vasil early tagging him for two runs in the top of the second, though Virginia would get those back and more in the bottom of the frame to take a 4-2 lead. The Demon Deacons got the lead right back in the top of the third, chasing Vasil from the game scoring three runs for 5-4 lead. Vasil pitched 2.1 innings giving up five runs on five hits and four walks. Zach Messinger came up huge striking out two ‘Deacs to strand runners at second and third and stop the bleeding in the third inning.

Virginia tied the game on an Alex Tappen solo home run in the bottom of the sixth and got 6.2 scoreless innings from the bullpen combination of Messinger, Brandon Neeck, and Blake Bales to set up the ninth inning fireworks. Tied 4-4, Devin Ortiz reached on an error. On to pinch run, Drew Hamrock stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch before Nic Kent and Chris Newell reached base on a walk and intentional walk. With the bases loaded and one out, Jake Gelof took the first pitch he saw right up the middle scoring Hamrock and securing the series win for the Hoos.

Going for the sweep on Sunday Virginia jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second with Kent, Newell, and Jake Gelof all driving in runs. Wake would chip away scoring single runs in the fourth, fifth, and seventh before taking a 4-3 lead in the eighth.

Nate Savino got the start for Virginia and went six strong, giving up two runs on seven hits and six strikeouts. He gave way to Matt Wyatt, who gave up two runs on two hits in an inning of work before clearing the way for Stephen Schoch. Schoch gave up a single hit in two innings.

Trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth, Kyle Teel knocked a one-out double and scored a batter later on Kent’s RBI single. In the bottom of the ninth, the Hoos made short work of it with Jake Gelof drawing a lead-off walk. Stepping to the plate was Senior Christian Hlinka, who — with a full count — drove a double to the right center gap scoring Jake Gelof (who was running on the pitch) easily from first and capping a memorable Senior Day.

While Sunday was for the Seniors, it was freshman Jake Gelof who stole the show all weekend. For the series, he batted .454 with five RBI and four runs scored (including the game winner Saturday). Joining him with five hits over three games was his brother Zack Gelof, while Chris Newell continued his solid second half of the season with four hits, four runs, and four RBI. Among the other standouts for Virginia were Max Cotier with four hits and Kent with four runs scored and three runs knocked in.

The sweep leaves the Hoos 25-21 overall and 16-17 in the ACC. They’ve assured themselves a spot in the ACC Tournament in two weeks and can avoid a losing conference record with a series win this weekend at Boston College. Virginia stands 47th in RPI with the 11th toughest strength of schedule in the country. They still have work to do this weekend, but a strong finish to the season has made an NCAA Regional berth a possibility.