Cavs Talk Title Before Taking Off for Omaha

Virginia baseball coach Brian O'Connor established the expectations for his team at this year's College World Series on Monday night.

"I think this is a team that's built to win in Omaha," O'Connor told reporters shortly after the Cavaliers finished off Maryland, and clinched the program's third CWS trip in the last six years.

The Wahoos take off for Omaha on Thursday morning, and will practice at a local high school that afternoon. On Wednesday, O'Connor talked about what it will take for his team to win its first national title.

"We're going to have to pitch really good. And our offense needs to perform like they have in the last couple of ballgames," O'Connor explained. "If we can keep that kind of momentum going offensively, and our starters can go out and do what they've done all year, we'll have as good a shot as anybody."

UVa is hitting .316 as a team through six NCAA Tournament games -- up from .277 during the regular season -- while the pitching staff has a 1.83 team ERA.

"We're mentally tough," junior outfielder Brandon Downes said Wednesday. "We've got a bunch of mentally tough guys on our team. And we've got guys that just aren't ready to go home yet, and leave it all on the field and see what happens."

Downes is part of the Cavaliers' junior class that arrived on Grounds shortly after the program's last CWS appearance in 2011. Only three players remain from that team -- pitchers Artie Lewicki, Whit Mayberry, and Austin Young.

"We were close with the guys on the team who went out in '11, after recruiting visits and things like that. And watching it on TV," said another junior, infielder Branden Cogswell. "So to finally be able to experience that with this group of guys, it means a lot to these guys, and it's a dream come true for most of them."

"This is going to be an experience that we've been waiting for. This is why we wanted to come to Virginia, to play in games like we just played in this weekend, and to go to Omaha," said junior outfielder Derek Fisher. "It's everybody's dream to be in this position, but to not overlook why we're there."

UVa went 1-2 in its first CWS appearance in 2009, then 2-2 two years later. The Cavaliers will arrive in Omaha this week as the No. 3 national seed in this year's NCAA Tournament. They're one of just two national seeds to make it to Omaha, along with No. 7 TCU.

So while reaching Omaha for the first time is special for these current Cavaliers, they says just getting there isn't enough.

"I mean, we're going out to win," said Cogswell. "We've got the team. We have the pitching. We have the offense and defense to go out there and do some damage. And now that we're out there, we feel that we have the team that can compete and has a shot to win the national championship."

"I'd be so proud," said O'Connor. "What a great group to be able to do it with. This third-year group came in as such a highly-touted group. Very, very talented and skilled."

"Nobody deserves it more than this group. It's been a really unselfish group. It's very, very talented. And I'd love for that first national title to be with this group."


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