Ameer’s homer dooms UVA, sends Tribe to NCAA Regional final

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William & Mary baseball players celebrate a victory over Virginia. (Photo courtesy of Tribe Athletics)
William & Mary players celebrate their victory over Virginia. (Photo courtesy of Tribe Athletics)

CHARLOTTESVILLE — Charles Ameer belted the second pitch of the seventh inning over the left-center field wall, allowing William & Mary to beat Virginia 5-4 today, eliminating the defending national champions from the NCAA Division I baseball tournament.

The win continues the Tribe’s magical run through May and June and advances W&M to its second NCAA Regional Final, both in the last four years.

The win improves W&M’s record to 31-30, while the Cavaliers closed out their season with a record of 38-22.

The Tribe has stared elimination in the face six consecutive times, in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament last weekend and in Charlottesville this weekend. But each time the Tribe has succeeded without getting down to its final three outs. The Green and Gold meets East Carolina in the Charlottesville Regional Championship today at 3 p.m.

Offensively, Hunter Smith, Charles Ameer, and Josh Smith each collected two hits. Ameer’s homer put the Tribe ahead for good, while Kyle Wrighte had two RBI to lead W&M.

The bottom of the lineup provided a spark as William & Mary jumped out to an early lead with three runs in the bottom of the second inning. Hunter Smith led off the inning with a single back up the middle, before Josh Smith moved him up on a bunt single. Wrighte then roped a double down the left-field line to clear the bases. For the second time in the inning, the Tribe reached on a bunt single as Ameer beat one out to put runners on the corners. Zach Pearson followed with a sacrifice fly, giving W&M a 3-0 lead after two.

Virginia responded with three runs in the top of the fourth inning. With one out, back-to-back doubles from Pavin Smith and Daniel Pinero got the Cavaliers on the board for the first time. Adam Haseley followed with a single up the middle to score Pinero. After the second out, Jack Gerstenmaier singled up the middle, tying the score at three.

Pinero gave the Cavaliers their only lead of the afternoon with one swing of the bat in the top of the sixth inning. Pinero connected on a 1-2 pitch, and just snuck a home run over the left-field wall.

The Tribe responded immediately, tying the score at 4-4 in the bottom of the frame. Charley Gould led of the inning with a double. On the next pitch, Hunter Smith singled to left to tie the score.

In the bottom of the seventh, Ameer launched the second pitch of the inning deep over the right field wall. His eighth homer of the season provided W&M with its 5-4 winning margin.

Bodie Sheehan did not factor in the decision, but had a strong start for the Green and Gold. He pitched 5.2 innings, allowing four runs on eight hits. Robert White picked up his second win of the season, going 1.1 innings and allowing just three walks and recording one strikeout. Joseph Gaouette broke the school single-season saves record with a six-out appearance to earn his 11th save of the campaign. He scattered a pair of hits in each inning, but kept the Cavaliers off the scoreboard.

Tommy Doyle was saddled with his seventh loss of the season for Virginia. He pitched 4.1 innings, allowing two runs on three hits while striking out three. Offensively, Daniel Pinero and Jack Gerstenmaier led the Wahoos, going 3-for-4. Pinero had two RBI and scored twice.