CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- When the magic finally ran out in Omaha for Virginia last summer, seniors Alex Tappen and Devin Ortiz knew their time as a Cavalier was far from over.

"I couldn't leave an extra year of eligibility on the table," Tappen said, "I really wanted to bet on myself because I knew I had more to prove and I knew we had unfinished business as a team because obviously you get a taste of Omaha, but walking out of there without a national championship is a tough pill to swallow."

Now the two fifth-year seniors are preparing for the final home stretch with only four more games at Disharoon Park guaranteed in their UVA careers. Tappen and Ortiz will be among a small handful of players honored on Senior Day against Clemson on Sunday, May 15.

While Tappen took a little longer to decide to return for a fifth season, Ortiz had his mind made up knowing he would need offseason shoulder surgery this past summer. The two texted often though throughout the offseason about how to lead a team missing so many of the faces which helped make their run to the College World Series possible in 2021.

"We just knew that it was going to be a different team with the amount of guys who had gotten drafted," Ortiz said, "Kind of at the same time it was like how are we going to be the best versions of leaders."

Nearly half of this year's UVA roster is made up of freshmen or transfers, so when Coach Brian O'Connor invited the pair of fifth-years back he hinted the clubhouse belonged to them.

"I put myself in their shoes, when I was a first year, early on in my second year," Ortiz said about leading a team full of fresh faces, "I tried to reflect on how I felt when I was in their shoes."

"It's all about learning from the bumps in the road and being able to apply that for the stretch run," Tappen said.

Few know those bumps like Tappen and Ortiz, who have played a combined 380 games in a UVA uniform. While the two seem like wise, postseason veterans now, they were also part of the first two teams to fail to make the NCAA Tournament under O'Connor at Virginia.

"You could kind of see the bumps in the roller coaster ride we've had as a team here in my five years," Ortiz said, "You look at the first two years, we didn't make the tournament. It was really a punch in the gut."

Throw in a season almost entirely wiped out by COVID-19 in 2020 and countless injuries between the two -- Ortiz battled a shoulder injury and Tappen has had a broken hand and hamstring injury -- and you two players built to lead a team full of potential and also inexperience.

"It's turned me into who I am today and obviously my parents raised a son who doesn't know how to quit," Tappen said, "Every single moment that's happened over my five years has led me to where we are right now."

From a pinch hitter last season, Tappen has turned into one of top run producers in the ACC with 12 home runs and 61 RBI. While Ortiz has come through the injuries to make a two-way impact on the mound and at the plate.

It's a testament to their five year journey together.

"Just the fact that it's us now coming back and leading this team hopefully to an Omaha run is something really special and something special I'll hold to my hear for the rest of my life," Tappen said.

"It kind of hit me that there's no coming back, I have no more eligibility," Ortiz said, "I'm sure it'll hit me a lot more this last home weekend and as the season comes down to an end, hopefully in Omaha."