Virginia stuns top seed ODU in extras, advances to Super Regionals
Devin Ortiz, who pitched four scoreless innings in his first career start, ended things with a walkoff homer in the bottom of the 10th, sending Virginia to an improbable Super Regional with a 4-3 win over ODU in the Columbia Regional on Tuesday.
UVA (33-24) had to battle back through the loser’s bracket after losing the opener on Friday to host South Carolina, and had to do so with a pitching staff running short on arms after having to use #3 starter Nate Savino to get through its first elimination game, a 13-8 win over Jacksonville on Saturday.
That’s why Ortiz, a first baseman/DH who had pitched two innings in the past two seasons, got the ball to start the day on Tuesday.
He gave coach Brian O’Connor four innings of one-hit ball, striking out six and walking two, dueling with ODU’s #1 starter, Hunter Gregory, who took a perfect game into the sixth on three days’ rest.
ODU (44-16) would strike first, on a ground-ball single through the shift off the bat of Brock Gagliardi off UVA’s #1 starter Andrew Abbott, who relieved Zach Messinger with two outs in the sixth.
Virginia tied the game in the seventh on an RBI fielder’s choice by Nic Kent, then took the lead one batter later on a sharp single to left by Alex Tappen that made it 2-1 entering the eighth.
Gagliardi tied the game in the top of the eighth with a two-out RBI single off ‘Hoos closer Stephen Schoch, and after an error by Virginia second baseman Max Cotier kept the inning alive, a Tommy Bell RBI single put the Monarchs up, 3-2.
With runners at first and second and two down in the bottom of the eighth, ODU closer Jason Hartline uncorked back-to-back two-strike wild pitches to Ortiz that allowed Zack Gelof to score, tying the game at 3-3.
ODU got a runner on with two out in the top of the ninth when Schoch hit Kyle Battle with a 2-2 backdoor slider, but Schoch got Kenny Levari to fly out to right to end the threat.
Virginia put two on with two out in the bottom of the ninth, but Max Cotier flew out to center to send the game to extras.
Schoch (4-1, 2.54 ERA), in the longest outing of his UVA career, 75 pitches over three and a third innings, retired ODU in order in the top of the 10th.
Kyle Teel grounded out to lead off the bottom half of the inning, before Ortiz hit a moonshot to left on a 1-1 fastball off Monarchs reliever Aaron Holiday (4-2, 3.34 ERA).
Virginia advances to face Dallas Baptist in the Super Regional round, which for some reason will be contested in Columbia.
Story by Chris Graham