HATTIESBURG, Miss. — UHV baseball’s historic season came to an end on Wednesday in the NAIA Opening Round at Milton Wheeler Field.
The Jaguars fell 4-3 to Ave Maria University (Fla.) despite having the winning run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth.
Levi Whitlock led off the ninth with a single before a sacrifice bunt by Julian DeLeon and a fly out moved him to third, representing the tying run.
“I couldn’t be prouder of this group,” said UHV head coach Jonathan Stavinoha. “We battled back to give ourselves a chance in the last inning and that’s all you can ask for. Nobody believed in them except for themselves.
“They fought to win the conference tournament. They fought to have a chance to reach the championship round. At the end of the day, we can hold our heads high with what this team did.”
The Jaguars (28-27) secured the program’s first winning season since 2015 and matched the single season postseason wins record (6) set in 2010 by winning six of their last eight games.
UHV fell behind 2-0 to the Gyrenes (36-17) after RBIs in the third and fourth innings.
El Campo graduate Zach Lee delivered a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fourth to pull within one.
Ty Williams drew a bases-loaded walk before Jose Montanez delivered a pinch-hit RBI to pull within 4-3 in the sixth.
Lee and Raul Lopez each went 2-for-3 in the game.
“We were never out of this game,” Stavinoha said. “Each guy kept going up and tried to do a job to get runs across, the ball just didn’t fall our way today. That fight is something we can be proud of.”
Christian Garcia was on the losing end of the decision after working through six innings and striking out five in his fifth start this year.
Carson McKenna had a season-high three innings of scoreless relief, striking out four and allowing only two hits.
“Both of those guys played their butts off,” Stavinoha said. “Garcia did everything he could to keep us in the game. McKenna had his best performance of the year and it came in one of the biggest games of his career. They gave us everything they had today.”
Wednesday’s loss marked the end of the UHV careers for Lee, Williams, Garcia, Victoria West graduate Cade Mitscherling, Jose Jimenez Antonio, Westley Schields and Allen Hernandez.