Home #9 Virginia gets walk-off single in 11th, defeats Georgia Tech, 8-7, to even series

#9 Virginia gets walk-off single in 11th, defeats Georgia Tech, 8-7, to even series

Chris Graham

uva logo blue Chase Hungate pitched five innings in relief, giving up a run on six hits, and several hard-hit-ball outs, but between that, and a walk-off RBI single from Bobby Whalen, #9 Virginia got an 8-7 win over Georgia Tech on Saturday.

Luke Hanson led off the bottom of the 11th with a double to the wall in right-center, then advanced to third on a deep fly to right off the bat of Griff O’Ferrall.

With one down and a runner on third, the play is usually, walk the next hitter, set up a possible inning-ending double play.

But Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall decided, after a visit to the mound to discuss what to do, to just bring the infield in and have reliever Brett Thomas pitch to Whalen.

Whalen hit a bouncer through the drawn-in infield to right on the first pitch.

No drama there.

Georgia Tech (23-14, 8-9 ACC) had tied the game in the ninth on a hard-hit grounder off the bat of Bobby Zmarzlak that knocked Hungate’s glove off his left hand, but the pitcher was able to recover to get the out at first as Cam Jones scored from third.

Hungate struck out Carson Kerce with a runner at third and two outs to get out of that threat.

Virginia (30-10, 12-8 ACC) had two on and two out in the bottom of the ninth, but Thomas retired Jacob Ference, who had hit a moon shot off The Clubhouse in left-center earlier in the game, on a long fly ball that backed Yellow Jackets centerfielder Drew Burress to the fence in right-center for the third out.

Hungate (5-0, 3.37 ERA) got through the next two innings allowing just one baserunner, ahead of the walk-off in the 11th.

One issue that I noticed today with Hungate: he’s good at getting to strike two, not so good after that.

Georgia Tech hitters were 4-for-9 with a hit-by-pitch and an RBI with two strikes in plate appearances against Hungate.

Might be something for Hungate and pitching coach Drew Dickinson to work on there.

From a look at the numbers, Hungate has 28 Ks in 34.2 innings this season, which looks … fine.

Those numbers are deceptive, though – he has just 12 Ks in 21.2 innings against ACC opponents.

Owen Coady (1-0, 3.28 ERA) started and pitched into the fifth, allowing two runs, one earned, on two hits in four and a third innings, striking out two and walking (gasp!) five.

Coady left with UVA trailing 2-1, before the ‘Hoos scored six runs in the sixth, the big blow being a three-run bomb to left-center off the bat of freshman first baseman Henry Ford, his 14th homer of the season.

Jay Woolfolk (1-1, 7.34 ERA) stood to be the beneficiary of the outburst, and he looked good early in his relief stint, hitting 95 mph on the gun several times, before a Hanson throwing error opened the floodgates for a four-run Georgia Tech seventh that got Georgia Tech back to within one, down 7-6.

A head-scratching baserunning blunder kept it at 7-6 an inning later. Georgia Tech had runners on first and third with nobody out, and Hungate induced a double-play grounder off the bat of Burress.

But for some unknown reason, Mike Becchetti, who had doubled to lead off the inning and advanced to third on a Trey Yunger infield single, just stayed on third as the middle infield turned two.

That allowed Hungate to get out of the inning one batter later when Payton Green grounded out to short.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].