CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA. — When Maryland pulled starter Ryan Selmer five batters and one out into its must-win super regional game against Virginia, it appeared coach John Szefc would need to piece together a victory with his bullpen.
For nearly eight innings, Robert Galligan was the only piece he needed.
The junior left-hander quickly ended Virginia's two-run first inning, then cruised into the ninth with 7 2/3 scoreless innings and a two-run lead before the Cavaliers ambushed Maryland late for the second time in as many days.
Galligan loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth. Closer Kevin Mooney then walked in a run before freshman Ernie Clement's two-run single gave Virginia a 5-4 walk-off win before 5,001 fans at Davenport Field.
"It's tough when you lose games like that, in the fashion that we did, particularly today," Szefc said. "Rob did a great job going almost the full distance after coming in in the first. … We just couldn't get it done at the end."
It was a familiar ending for Maryland, which saw a 3-0 lead erased Friday with a five-run eighth inning off starter Mike Shawaryn and Mooney. For a second straight year, Virginia ended the season of a Maryland team that set a school record in wins in the super regional.
Galligan took the loss with three earned runs in 7 2/3 innings of relief, all the damage coming in the ninth. Until then, he used his presumed short leash to keep him efficient.
"I didn't really know when my last batter was going to be," Galligan said. "I was just trying to avoid getting a guy on base so they wouldn't go to another guy."
Galligan told inquiring coaches after the seventh inning that he "wanted the game." Heading back out for the ninth, he said, was a "no-brainer."
Mooney, Maryland's all-time leader with 33 career saves, and left-hander Alex Robinson were hot in the bullpen to start the ninth. Clement said after the game that Virginia catcher Matt Thaiss was yelling at Szefc to put Mooney in from across the diamond.
Mooney came in with the bases loaded, after a pair of walks and a single off the fading Galligan. Mooney walked Game 1 hero Kevin Doherty, whose three-run double proved the difference Friday, on five pitches. Then Mooney hung a 2-2 curveball and slumped to his knees as Virginia's bench poured past him to celebrate in the infield.
"It was very similar to yesterday," Szefc said. "A lot of things went our way yesterday. Going into the eighth, we're up 3-0 yesterday. Going into the ninth, we're up 4-2 today. If you had told me both at the start of the weekend, I'd have taken that and ran with it. We just couldn't finish either game off."
Maryland built its lead by squaring to bunt. They bunted nine times in the two-game series, including six times Saturday — five sacrifices and a safety squeeze. All four Maryland runs came after leadoff men reached and advanced on a sacrifice by the next batter.
In the first inning, LaMonte Wade walked to lead off the game, was sacrificed to second, and scored on Nick Cieri's first hit of the series to put Maryland up 1-0. Anthony Papio, who paced Maryland with two hits, doubled to open the fourth, was pushed along and tied the game at 2 after three straight bunts from Tim Lewis, Kevin Biondic and Wade.
An inning later, that approach gave Maryland the lead. Kevin Smith singled up the middle, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Patrick Hisle — who entered the game in the third after All-Big Ten second baseman Brandon Lowe rolled his ankle on the basepaths — and scored on an RBI single from Kevin Martir.
Martir, the team's everyday catcher and cleanup hitter, threw out two base runners Saturday and reached all four times he came to bat. He also scored Maryland's fourth run in the eight inning after a leadoff single, a sacrifice bunt, and a run-scoring triple from Papio.
It wasn't enough to stop another Maryland baseball season from ending in an emotional but positive postgame meeting at a Charlottesville hotel.
"This has been a great year for our program," Szefc said. "We set the school record for wins, a second straight year in a super regional, we played in the Big Ten championship game, won the UCLA regional. I've got nothing negative to say to these guys."