The Virginia Cavaliers’ 2022 baseball season came to an end on Sunday as they fell in walk-off fashion to the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in the 2022 NCAA Baseball Greenville Regional. As has been the case over the last half of the season, Virginia just couldn’t come up with the big hit when they needed it and the pitching staff wasn’t able to put teams away in the back end of games. What made this more disappointing was the Hoos led 6-0 midway through the game and looked to be cruising on their way to a rematch against East Carolina later in the evening.
The Cavaliers struck first in the top of the first inning with Kyle Teel batting out of the two hole hitting a one out double and scoring on an Alex Tappen single. The 1-0 lead could have been larger as Virginia then loaded the bases on a pair of walks by Jake Gelof and Casey Saucke, but Ethan Anderson grounded into a 4-6-3 double play ending the inning.
Two innings later, Virginia got two more runs as Tappen singled again and Jake Gelof knocked his 20th home run of the season. The two RBIs were his 77th and 78th on the year which broke Pavin Smith’s single season UVA record of 77 set back in 2017. Two innings later, Gelof struck again, this time a three run shot giving the Hoos a 6-0 lead. It as his 21st home run of the year which put him one behind Brian Buchanan for the most in a single season by a Cavalier. He as 27 home runs for his career which puts him at ninth on the UVA all-time list after just his second season.
Coastal Carolina would get some of those back in the bottom half of the fifth however when, after Jake Berry gave up a pair of lead off walks, Kameron Guangorena came up with an RBI single. After another walk, Dylan Bowers came into relieve Berry and immediately surrendered a bases loaded walk to bring home the Chanticleers second run of the game. The mistakes continued however as Bowers hit the next batter and the score was all of a sudden 6-3.
The bleeding continued in the botton of the sixth. WIth Paul Kosanovich in for Bowers, Coastal made the game 6-4 on a lead off home run by Nick Lucky. After Dale Thomas doubled, Graham Brown tied the game at six with a home run to left field.
The teams remained tied heading into the ninth inning. In the top half of the inning, Griff O’Ferrall led off with a single through the six hole. He’d move over on a bunt by Teel. After a fly out by Tappen and an intentional walk to Gelof, Saucke just missed a home run as he flied out to center ending the inning.
That set things up for Coastal Carolina who like Virginia got the leadoff runner on and bunted him over to second. Seeing as the only runner that mattered was the one on second, Virginia walked Tyler Johnson setting up a double play. It wasn’t to be however as the next batter, Chris Rowan Jr. singled up the middle scoring Austin White to end the game and sending the Hoos back to Charlottesville.
On the day, as has been the case most of the season, Virginia was led by the heart of its lineup. Tappen went 4-5 while Teel and Gelof each had two hits. Gelof provided the pop driving in five runs all courtesy of his two home runs. On the mound, Berry gave up three earned runs on three hits in 4.1 innings of work. He pitched well but was undone by four walks. Bowers faced only two batters giving up a walk and hitting a batter while Kosanovich pitched two innings giving up three earned runs on three hits. Matt Wyatt took the loss going two innings giving up two hits and most notably the game winning run.
Virginia ends their season having gone 39-19. It wasn’t the way they wanted to end things, especially after starting the year 14-0. All is not lost however as I think they team was a year away and their early season success was both a product of weak competition as well as unsustainable expectations. Most of the big bats are back next season, highlighted by Gelof, Teel, Saucke, and O’Ferrall. If the pitching can improve, another appearance in NCAA Regionals might be this team’s floor.