blue ridge bank

The Brothers Gelof are on an offensive tear for the Cavaliers

By Jerry Ratcliffe

zack gelof

Zack Gelof. Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

There’s nothing like a family dinner to spark a sibling rivalry. Just ask Virginia’s brother combination of Zack and Jake Gelof.

During Friday night’s dinner with their parents, Kelly and Adam, conversation led to UVA’s opening round loss to South Carolina in the NCAA regionals in Columbia. While the Cavaliers struggled offensively as a team, the Gelofs flourished, both hitting home runs in the same game for the second time in a week.

At one point during dinner, the question was raised to Zack, a junior third baseman, “you’re not going to let your little brother show you up are you?”

Thus, the rivalry automatically went up a notch, and it showed Saturday during Virginia’s come-from-behind, 13-8 slugfest win over Jacksonville, eliminating the Dolphins from the regional (see related story). At noon, Sunday, UVA will face Saturday night’s loser of Old Dominion vs. South Carolina, in an elimination game.

The Brothers Gelof had quite a bit of impact on knocking Jacksonville out, while continuing their hitting spree in the Columbia regional.

Over the two combined regional games, the Gelofs are 11-for-17 hitting (.647), have scored nine runs, posted five RBI, slammed three home runs, reached base three times via walks, and struck out only twice.

While Jake, the freshman first baseman, may have out done his big brother in home runs (2 to 1), Zack has torn up pitching and is 7-for-10 at the plate as Virginia’s leadoff man. Both were instrumental in Saturday’s win that kept the Cavaliers hopes alive as they combined to go 7-for-9 hitting and accounted for six runs (Jake scored four).

In the process, Jake slammed his second home run of the regional and his third of the postseason (the first, and his first of the entire season, came against Duke in the ACC tournament semifinals. Saturday’s came in Virginia’s five-run, sixth inning, which put the Cavaliers into the lead for good at 11-7.

UVA trailed 7-6 coming into the inning and when Jake Gelof came to bat against the Dolphins second reliever of the inning, Jagger McCoy, he unleashed on a fastball for a two-run blast to left field for a 10-7 lead.

Wonder what Saturday night’s dinner conversation might be?

“[The sibling rivalry] might be there a little bit,” Jake said, “but as long as it’s making the team better, we’re competing within ourselves and trying to keep this momentum going.”

Meanwhile, Virginia coach Brian O’Connor is getting a kick out of watching the brothers compete and making the Cavaliers a better team. Wahoo fans have enjoyed watching the two perform and have opening asked the parents is there’s another Gelof coming down the line in a half-jokingly manner.

“They’re a baseball family and they’ve grown up playing baseball, and [baseball] is important to their entire family,” O’Connor said. “There is not any other Gelofs on the way that I’m aware of, but I’m glad that we have the two together.”

The Virginia coach is just as wowed as the Cavaliers fan base over what the brothers have accomplished the past two days.

“I mean, it started last week with the ACC tournament where they were really good as well,” O’Connor said. “They both hit a home run in the same game, and they’ve been done a terrific job these first two games for us. Whenever Zack moves on to professional baseball, I know Jake will have a great career here as well.”

Zack, a preseason All-American by Collegiate Baseball and the NCBWA, has lived up to his reputation and is expected to be a high draft choice. Jake is already carving out his own reputation.

As long as the brothers keep producing, their performances will at least give Virginia a chance to advance in the regional, and that’s all that O’Connor can ask for from the duo from Rehoboth Beach, Del.

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