JU’s baseball season ends with loss to Virginia; Gators walloped by South Alabama

The seasons of two regional college baseball teams ended on Saturday, one expectedly and the other unbelievably.

Jacksonville University’s Cinderella run through the college baseball postseason ended with a 13-8 loss to Virginia in the Columbia Regional. Host Florida’s season ended abruptly. The Gators, the unanimous preseason No. 1 team in the country, got annihilated on their home field by South Alabama in a 19-1 blowout.

With how JU (16-34) began the season, just reaching regional play was a significant accomplishment. The Dolphins opened up 0-8 and limped into the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament just 3-15 in ASUN play.

That’s before turning the jets on in May and winning the conference tournament, quite the showing for coach Chris Hayes and his staff.

Keeping that magic going through regionals just wasn’t in the cards.

Bartram Trail graduate Mike Cassala went 3 for 5 and Jackson Grabsky went 3 for 3 to lead JU at the plate. But the Dolphins couldn’t hold off the bats of the Cavaliers. Virginia pounded four JU pitchers for 21 hits and a pair of home runs.

A day earlier, JU left runners stranded on second and third in the ninth inning in a 4-3 loss to top-seeded Old Dominion. Starting pitcher Tyler Santana was sharp in that game, going all eight innings and striking out nine.

On the other side of the spectrum, Florida’s season ended in unbelievable fashion.

The Gators’ disappointing season was put to an end with the Jaguars scored 10 runs in the top of the sixth inning, doing all of that damage with two outs. South Alabama had all 10 of its hits that inning with two outs, too.

Florida, the top seed in its own regional, lost a day earlier to USF, 5-3, to put it in the loser’s bracket game. It was the most lopsided loss for the Gators since Mississippi State beat Florida, 20-2 on May 5, 2000 in Starkville, Miss.

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.