The Virginia baseball team has championship expectations this season and Friday night, the team got a message from someone who's won titles at the highest level.
John Farrell, manager of the defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox, and Oakland A's pitcher Sean Doolittle were the featured guests at Friday's 12th Annual 'Step Up to the Plate" fundraiser at John Paul Jones Arena.
Both men have ties to the Virginia program. Farrell's son Jeremy played for the Cavaliers in the mid-2000's and Doolittle was a two-time All-American during that same time.
Farrell guided the Red Sox to the 2013 World Championship in his first year as manager, just a year after the team finished in last place in the American League East Division. The Red Sox went 97-65 in 2013 en route to the AL East championship.
Farrell also owns a 2007 World Series ring with Boston, and spoke with the Cavaliers about their No.1 ranking going into the season.
"Other people's expectations should never be greater than your own," Farrell said of his message to the team. "They're never going to change other people's opinions. They have to focus on taking care of their business in between the walls of the ballpark."
For Doolittle, it was a return to the place that helped mold him into the 2006 ACC Player of the Year and a first-round draft pick in 2007.
"It's amazing," Doolittle said of the program's ascension to one of the country's elite. "They're a pre-season No. 1 team. When I was playing we would have been incredibly thrilled just to be in the Top 25. Guys that I play with know about UVa baseball now."