The top-ranked UVa. baseball team lost its regular-season finale, 4-3, to Wake Forest Saturday at Wake Forest Baseball Park. Virginia (43-11, 22-8 ACC) dropped the series, two games to one, marking the Cavaliers’ first series loss of the year and snapping a streak of 11 straight ACC series wins, dating to the 2013 season.
Virginia finished second in the ACC Coastal Division standings. The Cavaliers will be the No. 3 seed in the upcoming ACC Baseball Championship, which begins Tuesday at NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro, N.C. Wake Forest (30-25, 15-15) clinched the No. 8 seed in the tournament. Brackets and game times for the tournament will be announced Sunday.
Nick Howard (Jr., Olney, Md.) and Mike Papi (Jr., Tunkhannock, Pa.) each hit solo home runs for Virginia, while Robbie Coman (So., Lake Worth, Fla.) had a pair of hits. UVa had runners on base in eight of nine innings but stranded 11, including leaving the bases loaded in the ninth inning.
Virginia starting pitcher Brandon Waddell (So., Houston, Texas) worked 5 1/3 innings, giving up three earned runs, five hits and two walks while striking out five. Waddell, who suffered the defeat and fell to 7-3 on the year, had pitched at least six innings in each of his last 10 starts.
Wake Forest reliever Max Tishman (1-2) earned the win after pitching the sixth inning, while Parker Dunshee tossed the final 2 1/3 innings to earn his first save. Starter Connor Kaden pitched five scoreless innings, giving up three hits and three walks with one strikeout.
Joey Rodriguez hit a solo home run to left field with one out in the third inning to give the Demon Deacons a 1-0 lead. Virginia countered in the sixth inning when Howard ripped a solo shot to left field, his first home run of the year.
Wake Forest came right back to take the lead for good, scoring three runs in its half of the sixth. With one out and runners on second and third, Virginia brought in reliever Connor Jones (Fr., Chesapeake, Va.). Will Craig pulled Jones’ first pitch down the left-field line for a two-run single. With two outs, Ben Breazeale singled to center to plate pinch runner Kevin Conway.
Virginia scored a run in the seventh when Papi cranked a two-out solo home run to right field. The blast was Papi’s ACC-leading 10th homer of the season.
The Cavaliers pulled within a run in the ninth inning, loading the bases with two outs and then scoring a run when second baseman Nate Mondou booted a routine grounder from Derek Fisher (Jr., Rexmont, Pa.). Dunshee rebounded to strike out Howard swinging to end the game.