WCAV-WVAW-WAHU | Charlottesville, Virginia | Sports

Confident Cavaliers Reach 30-Win Plateau Again

His team is 30-3 on the season, ranked in the top five in the country in every major college baseball, and riding a five-game winning streak entering Wednesday's game at home against Radford.

Even Virginia coach Brian O'Connor admits, he didn't think his team would be quite this good this season.

"I can tell you in the off-season I certainly did not see this," O'Connor said Tuesday. "I saw some really good qualities, and obviously talent that we have. But you don't know that a team's capable of doing this until you get through it, and get into those situations."

"Certainly, it's worked. It's all come together," O'Connor added. "And then it snowballs, and they go out on the field every day with a level of expectation to go out there and play good, winning baseball, and find a way to win the game."

Virginia reached the 30-win plateau with Monday's win at Wake Forest that completed a three-game sweep of the Demon Deacons, and improved Virginia's ACC record to 12-3 this season. The Cavaliers climbed out of late-inning holes in the first two games of the series, thanks to late home runs by Mike Papi on Friday night and Reed Gragnani on Saturday.

"That's the thing that I've been most impressed with with this group, has been our ability to just bring our game of baseball and be ready to play each and every day that we've stepped on the field," O'Connor said. "I think it speaks to the leadership that's within this team. That the veteran players get everybody ready to play. And there's a presence and a calmness about this team, that they have confidence in each other. That no matter what, they're going to find a way to get the job done."

"It's definitely a great characteristic for our team to have," agreed sophomore Nick Howard, who pitched 7 1/3 innings in Monday night's win. "Knowing that even when we get down, we still have the confidence in ourselves and each other that we're still going to go out and get the win."

"It always starts with pitching and defense. And our lineup's been hitting the ball well," Howard added. "And just knowing that we have the confidence to go out there and win every game definitely helps us."

This week presents a new challenge for this year's Cavaliers. It's the first time they'll have to do the quick turnaround after a Monday night ACC game. Virginia hosts Radford on Wednesday, then flies to Georgia Tech for a three-game series that starts Friday.

But O'Connor doesn't think that short week will be a big factor for his team.

"We're at the point in the season to where they all really, really matter if you want to put yourself in a position to try to win a championship," he explained. "So I know our guys will be ready to play."

"We've won enough games now for them to learn and understand what it takes to beat a good opponent," O'Connor added. "And certainly we're going to have that on Wednesday night against Radford, and absolutely we'll have it this weekend at Georgia Tech."


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