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Virginia takes Game 2 with Wake, 6-5, on walkoff in ninth

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(© Sean Gladwell – stock.adobe.com)

Virginia freshman Jake Gelof singled home the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth to secure a 6-5 win over Wake Forest on Saturday at Disharoon Park.

UVA (24-21, 15-17 ACC) has won its third-straight ACC series and has won of seven of its last 10 games.

Already with two RBI and a run scored on the night, Gelof stepped in with the bases loaded in the ninth and punched the first pitch he saw up the middle and into center field that allowed pinch-runner Drew Hamrock to score easily from third base.

Gelof was 2-for-5 with a run scored and a season-high three RBI in the contest.

The Cavaliers trailed on two different occasions, 2-0 after two innings and 5-4 after three frames. Senior Alex Tappen tied the game up at five in the sixth inning with a pinch-hit, solo home run. It was his first homer of the season and eighth of his career.

Virginia has three walk-off wins this season (two against ACC opponents) and recorded its 10th come-from-behind win of 2021.

“A terrific, team win right there,” ‘Hoos coach Brian O’Connor said. “I’m really proud of our bullpen – (Zach) Messinger, (Brandon) Neeck and (Blake) Bales all did a tremendous job. If any of those guys give up a run, we don’t win that ball game. We scrapped offensively, that four-run second was a big inning for us and we had numerous opportunities to score more runs, I don’t know how many runners we left on, but it felt like a lot. Fortunately, we were able to come through there in the bottom of the ninth. It’s great finding a way to win those kind of ball games.”

Junior Zach Messinger took over on the mound in the top of the third with runners on second and third. The righthander struck out the final two batters of the frame to limit the Wake Forest damage. Messinger went on to pitch 3.2 innings and fanned six in his 20th appearance of the year.

Lefty Brandon Neeck faced one batter and fanned clean-up hitter Bobby Seymour to record the first out of the seventh. He handed the ball to Blake Bales, who faced the minimum over the final 2.2 innings, only allowing one runner to reach. The righthander struck out four and was credited with his third win of the season. He now owns a 0.50 ERA in a team-best 22 relief appearances.

The bullpen trio benefited from two outstanding defensive efforts, first in the fifth inning when leftfielder Brendan Rivoli (ended the frame with an outfield assist to keep it a 5-4 ball game. It was Rivoli’s third outfield assist of the season, tied for the most on the team.

Freshman Kyle Teel put an end to a Demon Deacon scoring threat in the ninth inning when he cut down Michael Turconi attempting to steal second.

The Cavaliers will go for the series sweep on Sunday, seeking their first ACC series sweep since the 2019 season. Virginia will have lefthander Nate Savino (2-2) on the mound and he will be opposed by righty William Fleming (3-6). The finale will be broadcast live on ACC Network at noon. The game will be preceded by a ceremony honoring its 13 seniors at approximately 11:30 a.m.


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