Virginia Bows Out Of College World Series With Loss To FSU

Virginia Cavaliers Jay Woolfolk Jay Woolfolk started strong for Virginia, but exited the game after a situation with his knee. ~ Photo courtesy of Virginia Athletics Media Relations

OMAHA, Neb. – There are few words to describe the feeling. Moments after the season comes to an end at the biggest stage of college baseball, Virginia players are left hugging family, friends, and each other before walking off the field for the final time.

“It’s a weird moment honestly,” UVA sophomore second baseman Henry Godbout said. “You go out there and you realize there’s certain guys you’re not going to play with again. It gets really emotional.”

For the second year in a row, the Cavaliers saw their season end with an 0-2 record in Omaha after suffering a 7-3 defeat to Florida State on Sunday. The loss was the program’s sixth straight at the College World Series dating back to its 2021 appearance.

“We all talk about it here,” Virginia coach Brian O’Connor said. “That to win in Omaha it’s individual moments, individual players that rise up.”

On the mound, UVA’s fortunes could not have been more split.

Starter Jay Woolfolk looked like he was taking another step in an already excellent postseason through the first couple innings. The righty retired the first seven batters he faced, including 3 strikeouts and seeing his fastball top out at a season-high 94-95 mph.

“I think I went, was it, six up, six down, in the first two innings,” Woolfolk said. “Felt great. Felt like I commanded every single pitch at will.”

Woolfolk’s day started to take a turn in the third. He gave up 2 singles and back-to-back walks to bring in the first run for the Seminoles. In the fourth, Florida State’s Jaime Ferrer led off with a home run before O’Connor and UVA trainer Brian McGuire went out to check on Woolfolk, who was noticeably limping.

“Just freak accident, I guess,” Woolfolk said. “I felt fine, felt great. Feel great now. Just something that happened, and I really don’t know how to explain it.”

Woolfolk faced two more batters, a line out and a walk, before exiting the game with the trainer after 3.1 innings. The problem was described as a right knee injury, one that was also looked at during his start in the Super Regional against Kansas State and Woolfolk had said was fine leading up to Sunday.

“You never want to see one of our best pitchers go down like that,” Godbout said. “You just have to keep fighting, that’s how baseball is sometimes.”

At the time Virginia only trailed 2-0 with Joe Savino entering the game, but a 4-run fifth inning highlighted by Ferrer’s second home run put the game nearly out of reach.

“We just didn’t get that or that big double to drive in two runs, whether it be the North Carolina game or this game, and we didn’t get that,” O’Connor said.

The Hoos did pile up 10 hits on the day, but only a pair went for extra bases. Florida State starter Carson Dorsey, who struggled against the Cavaliers in Charlotte for the ACC Tournament, bounced back by pitching 7.0 innings with only 3 earned runs on 9 hits and 7 strikeouts.

“He was beating us with fastballs today, which isn’t very UVA-like as far as the season goes,” Cavalier junior Anthony Stephan said. “We take pride in our approach and we work at it every day. And sometimes pitchers make good pitches.”

During the regular season, no Power 5 conference team averaged more runs than Virginia with 9.3 per game. But during the postseason the Wahoos saw their scoring drop to 5.7 runs. In their two games in Omaha, Virginia left a combined 19 runners on base with only 5 runs on the board.

In their own words, the Cavaliers took too long to adjust their approach at the larger than life Charles Schwab Field, while facing some of the best talent in the country on the mound.

“I think just make adjustments quicker,” said UVA freshman Henry Ford, whose last extra base hit came in the regular season finale against Virginia Tech. “I think today we made great adjustments on the starter, it was just a little too late.”

After watching their season end last season in Omaha with back-to-back one-run losses, the returning players knew the margins would be small coming in.

“Coach O’Connor said before we came here that it’s going to come down to one extra step,” Virginia junior Casey Saucke said. “It’s going to be a one step ballgame. As you saw, the first three games were all walk-off wins.”

“Hitting at this field is a little bit different,” he continued. “We were lucky today the wind was blowing a little more out, kind of had the wind on our side. It’s a big ballpark and Florida State did some damage today and put a couple balls over the wall.”

After the game an emotional Woolfolk talked through his injury before turning his attention to his coach, challenging O’Connor’s critics after the controversial decision to end Friday’s game against UNC and thanking him as well as football coaches Bronco Mendenhall and Tony Elliott.

“Coach O, since you’re here, know that I gave everything that I had,” Woolfolk said. “And thank you for making me the man I am today. I wouldn’t be this far without you. The talks we had when the season was down, I wouldn’t be here where I am, what you’ve done for me and my family.”

The Hoo hugs along the third base line at Charles Schwab Field provided a final goodbye for a junior class of players with a lot of college baseball under their belts. Impact players like Griff O’Ferrall, Ethan Anderson, Woolfolk, and Saucke are currently on MLB Draft boards and have likely played their final game at Virginia.

Three years and two trips to Omaha later, the group will be tough to say goodbye to.

“This is an amazing team,” Saucke said. “I’m fortunate enough to have an amazing junior class along with Griff, Ethan and Jay Woolfolk. I just love those guys and I’m so proud of all of us.”

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