CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Ernie Clement lined a two-run single to left to cap a three-run ninth inning for Virginia, and the Cavaliers beat Maryland 5-4 on Saturday to earn a return trip to the College World Series.
Clement’s hit came after reliever Robert Galligan, brilliant for 7.1 innings for the Terps, allowed two walks and a single in the ninth, loading the bases with none out. Maryland coach John Szefc, a former UL-Lafayette assistant, then turned to closer Kevin Mooney, who walked Kevin Doherty to force in one run before Clement’s line drive hit.
Saturday’s win was an exclamation point for the Cavaliers (39-22) — often called the Wahoos by their fans — who were in danger of missing the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament for a late-season hot streak. They will return to Omaha, Nebraska, where they played in the championship series last year before losing to Vanderbilt in three games.
The Terrapins (42-24) saw their winningest season come to a crushing end.
On Friday, they led until Virginia scored five times in the eighth inning for a 5-3 victory, with Mooney, the program’s career saves leader, again failing to deliver in the clutch.
Alec Bettinger (5-5) earned the victory with a perfect ninth in relief of Brandon Waddell, who went the first eight innings, allowing 10 hits and four runs while striking out seven and walking two.
Galligan had allowed just three hits when he went out to begin the ninth and the Cavaliers had not managed to get more than one baserunner against him in any inning until he walked Pavin Smith, allowed a single by Robbie Coman and walked Joe McCarthy on four pitches, loading the bases with no one out.
Galligan (4-5) came on after starter Ryan Selmer allowed four straight singles and two runs in the first. Galligan got two quick outs to halt a rally and frustrated the Cavaliers with a variety of off-speed pitches.
The Terrapins, who had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, added runs in the fourth, fifth and eighth innings, the last coming on a triple by Anthony Papio to make it 4-2 in the eighth.
Maryland tied it at 2-2 in the fourth when Papio led off with a double, was sacrificed to third and scored on LaMonte Wade’s popped up bunt that fell just beyond a diving Waddell’s reach.
They used small ball again in the fifth to go ahead. Kevin Smith led off with a single, Patrick Hisle sacrificed and Kevin Martir singled him home. Martir also singled leading off the eighth inning, was sacrificed to second and scored when Papio laced a two-out triple to the wall in right-center.
Virginia went ahead in the bottom of the first, and knocked out starter Selmer in the process. Dabiel Pinero singled and scored on Matt Thaiss’ double. Kenny Towns’ single scored Thaiss and when Pavin Smith singled, the Terps pulled Selmer and brought in Galligan, who had made three starts this season.
The Terps took a 1-0 lead in the first as Wade walked, was sacrificed to second, took third on a grounder and scored on Nick Cieri’s single.