How Virginia baseball players spent their first hours after learning of the season’s postponement

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Virginia baseball player look on from the dugout during a game against UMass Lowell on March 10 at Disharoon Park.

Chesdin Harrington wandered through Disharoon Park, taking in all that it had to offer.

The Virginia senior pitcher had just learned that the College World Series had been canceled and, like many of his teammates, he didn’t want to leave the park just yet.

Harrington stood on the mound. He ventured into the stands to see what the ballpark looked like from a fan’s perspective. Then, he went under the left field bleachers to what is now storage space and used to be a bullpen.

“I stood back on this broken down former bullpen mound, looked at home plate and started crying,” Harrington said. “I stood in there for five or 10 minutes.”

During those minutes, the fifth-year senior thought about his early days at Virginia.

He thought about learning from Karl Kuhn, his former pitching coach and the current head coach at Radford.

The memories brought Harrington to tears.

“That was the place where I grew up,” Harrington said. “That was a place where Coach Kuhn really challenged me, and I probably had some tears when I was a freshman too. That was the place where I felt like I couldn’t do anything right and then felt like I could do everything right.”

Harrington developed into a consistent pitcher for the Cavaliers during his time in Charlottesville.

In 2016, Harrington tossed 11 innings and allowed 11 earned runs. He had more walks than strikeouts.

Over his next two seasons on the mound, which came in 2017 and 2019 (Harrington sat out 2018 with an injury), he tossed 96 2/3 innings and struck out 102 batters while walking just 28.

His ERA in both seasons checked in at below 3.50. While he started his redshirt senior season slowly, Harrington turned into one of UVa’s most consistent options over the past few years.

“He was really building me up and developing an 18-year-old kid coming in that really had no idea what to expect and thought I had it all figured out,” Harrington said of Kuhn. “Looking back as a 23-year-old guy, I was so thankful for those experiences. They were painful at times when I was in the pen, but they made me better. They made me who I was.”

Elsewhere in the park, Stephen Schoch went through a similar experience.

The graduate transfer pitcher from UMBC dreamed of playing at Virginia since his days as a little leaguer.

He began his career at Appalachian State when UVa didn’t recruit him out of high school.

He then went to UMBC and became the school’s all-time saves leader before joining Virginia this season as a graduate transfer. He was tied for the ACC lead in saves with five when the season was cut short.

“I’m not one to really dwell on the past but just to sit there and sit back for really the first time since I’ve been here and just think, ‘Holy crap, I did the thing,’” Schoch said. “I got here. I always dreamed of doing this, and I did it.”

Schoch took a few moments to reflect and appreciate his journey.

Shortly after soaking up the moment, Schoch wanted to lighten the mood as players wandered the field and park wondering when they might play baseball again.

“When people are sad, I like to cheer them up, and if I’m sad, the best way I can get happy is cheering someone else up,” Schoch said.

Andrew Abbott, who shined in UVa’s bullpen alongside Schoch, took a few silent moments in the bullpen.

The junior posted a 1.35 ERA in 13 1/3 innings this season, while striking out 28 batters. The lefty dominated when called upon.

When Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor would call Abbott out of the bullpen at home games, Blake Shelton’s “God’s Country” would blast over the stadium speakers as Abbott warmed up.

Abbott started heading toward the mound from the bullpen after he spent time soaking up the memories following the news that the season was suspended. Schoch started playing “God’s Country” on his phone. It broke the silence and drew laughs from teammates nearby.

“We have a no phone at the field rule, which we typically honor all the time,” Schoch said, “but given the extraordinary circumstances, we decided we could put the rules to the curb for just a little bit.”

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