Gunnar Carroll admits he rooted for the Virginia baseball team while growing up in nearby Louisa County. But now the right-handed pitcher is hoping for the chance to close the door on the Cavaliers on Friday.
Carroll and his Army teammates are in Charlottesville for the NCAA Regional that opens Friday with the Black Knights matched up with Virginia. The game has been rescheduled for 11 a.m. Friday in an attempt to avoid the storms in the forecast for that afternoon.
Carroll was named Jefferson District and Region II player of the year, and earned all-state recognition during his high school career at Louisa. He's expecting more than 30 family members and friends in the stands at Davenport Field this weekend.
"They're the most excited, probably," Carroll said Thursday. "My mother's going crazy. My dad's excited as well. I'm from a small town close to here, so a lot of people are going to be able to come out and watch me play. That's a rare thing, especially at this level."
Carroll emerged as a strong option in the Black Knights' bullpen as a freshman in 2011, going 3-2 with a 4.50 ERA in a team-best 20 appearances. This season, Carroll is 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA in a team-high 21 appearances, and leads the team with eight saves.
On Thursday, coach Joe Sottolano called Carroll "a leader as a sophomore."
"He's someone a lot of people look up to," Sottolano said. "He enjoys his time on the mound. You'll see him smile and laugh on the mound, which is kind of different for me. I've never really had that approach before. He's able to do that."
In his last appearance, Carroll pitched three scoreless innings to earn the win, as the Black Knights clinched the Patriot League title with an 8-4 win over Holy Cross.
"It's fun being the closer, being able to close out big games," Carroll said. "I was able to get the last out for our conference championship game. And every time you do that, and put a nail in the coffin of the other team, it's a good feeling."