Virginia Baseball’s Promising Start Slipped Away

Virginia
Virginia won 26 of its first 29 games this season. ~ Photo By Kris Wright/TheSabre.com

Sunday, the Virginia baseball team’s season was brought to a dramatic close at the hands of the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, who pulled off a miraculous 6-0 comeback against the Hoos. This marked the end of an unusual season for the Cavaliers as instead of improving game by game for a run at the end, the team slowly deteriorated over the course of the year.

Despite beginning the season in the cool air of February, UVA began its 2022 campaign white hot by winning 26 of its first 29 games. Fueled by Jake Gelof’s electric yellow bat, the Hoos were an unstoppable force on offense while boasting a sub-2 ERA on the mound. On this trajectory, Virginia entered into the same air as some of the season’s powerhouses, such as Tennessee, as it worked to solidify the team’s spot in the Top 10 and set its eyes on hosting a NCAA Tournament Regional.

However, despite the Cavaliers’ tremendous start to the season, the team quickly saw its competitive flame flicker in the month of April. After being swept by Miami, the team struggled to get things back on track with losses to Old Dominion, Pitt, VCU, Virginia Tech, and Louisville ahead of the ACC Tournament. Though the Hoos bats remained warm, the biggest point of concern became pitching, as the team ERA had skyrocketed from below two in the first 29 games, to above 5 in the following 25. This proved to be a major question mark for Virginia heading into tournament play.

Though UVA aspired to turn things around in postseason play, the ACC Tournament proved to be an indicator of what was to come. The team dropped two games against Florida State (13-3) and Notre Dame (3-0). Though these losses did not affect Virginia’s ability to make the NCAA Tournament, they did solidify Cavalier fans’ looming doubts that UVA would not host a Regional, and that the team would have to hit the road. The Hoos ended up assigned to Greenville.

Though hopes were high heading into the tournament, with UVA beginning 3 of their 5 College World Series campaigns on the road, the Cavaliers’ luck did not dramatically change. Upon arriving in Greenville, the Hoos secured a first game victory over Coastal Carolina (7-2) thanks to a 4-run inning in the third and a 3-run inning in the fifth. However, following this initial victory, Virginia fell back into its rut, dropping the next two games to East Carolina (4-2), despite loading the bases in the bottom of the ninth, and Coastal Carolina (7-6), despite leading the Chanticleers 6-0 at one point. With these two losses, Virginia was eliminated from the tournament and its season ended.

The Hoos ended the season with a .309 batting average on the season, led by Jake Gelof who boasted a .377 average with 21 home runs and a .477 on base percentage. Gelof’s 81 RBIs allowed him to break the program’s single-season RBI record held previously by current Major Leaguer Pavin Smith, putting him in prestigious air as only a sophomore. Additionally, Gelof’s 5 multi-home run games break another UVA record, one previously held by Smith (2015-2017) and current Cavalier Chris Newell (2020-2021). On the mound, Virginia collectively finished the season with a 3.99 ERA.

Hoos Gone

Not only was the loss to Coastal Carolina the end of the 2022 Virginia Baseball season, it also marked the conclusion of many Cavaliers’ collegiate baseball careers. Next season, Virginia will be without a substantial group of seniors and fifth years who have been vocal leaders and valuable wells of experience on the team, particularly after last season’s run to the College World Series. The seniors and graduate students on the roster are: Drew Hamrock, Brandon Neeck, Jimmy Sullivan, Billy Price, Paul Kosanovich, Dylan Bowers, Will Geerdes, Brian

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