Consistent Cavaliers Again Ranked No. 1 in Country

Brian O'Connor says that when he and his staff first took over the Virginia baseball program, their top priority was year-to-year consistency.

"We didn't want to be one of these programs where we have one really great year, then a down year the next," O'Connor said Monday. "So when that's your goal, you build a foundation of how you treat your players, how you practice. The things that are important to you to maintain consistency."

The Cavaliers clinched their 30th win of the season by beating Clemson 1-0 on Sunday at Davenport Field. O'Connor's teams have now hit that 30-win plateau in each of his 11 seasons at UVa.

The Cavaliers also clinched another weekend series win by beating the Tigers on Sunday. UVa is one of just four teams in the country that hasn't lost a weekend series this season. The Wahoos have won 11 straight series, dating back to last season -- and their last ACC series loss at home came two years ago this week.

"It's worked," O'Connor said. "We win most of our series. We consistently win a lot of games. We don't go on losing streaks. And it's tied to how we develop them as players, and how we communicate with them."

"And it's important, even if you do lose a tough ballgame like we did on Saturday to Clemson, that we don't overreact," he added. "And our players are ready to play the next day."

On Monday, UVa regained the No. 1 spot in the latest Baseball America College Top 25, after falling out of that top spot last month. The two teams directly behind the Cavaliers -- Louisiana-Lafayette (34-4) and Cal Poly (30-5) -- are the only other programs in the country that have reached the 30-win mark this spring.

But for O'Connor, what's most encouraging is how his team is winning this season.

"We've done it with what I think it takes to win championships, and that's great pitching and great defense," he explained. "There's certainly days that we've had really good offensive output, in certain games. But the pitching and the defense is the constant. If you want to be a championship program, and be consistent, that has to be there. So I'm very satisfied with where we're at at this point."

UVa began the year as the preseason No. 1 team in the country, according to Baseball America -- with those expectations based largely on the veteran talent the Cavaliers had coming back in the everyday lineup.

But as of Monday, UVa ranked fifth in the ACC with a .274 batting average and 202 runs scored -- but the Wahoos' 2.06 ERA and .985 fielding percentage were both best in the league.

"Injecting Danny Pinero in there at shortstop, and Cogswell over at second, it's given us a fantastic double-play combination. And the way that they've played in the first 36 games, it's hard for me to believe that there's a better combination out there in the country," O'Connor said.

"We were really good out of the bullpen last season, and we're really good this year," he added. "But I really just think the starting pitching has been more dominant than it has been before, and the defense has just been spectacular."


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