Brian O'Connor has been around the game of baseball long enough to know that you have to win one game before you can win three.
"Our goal in front of us right now is to have a chance to win a league championship in the regular season. I think everybody knows what that's going to take," Virginia's head coach said after Tuesday's 17-3 win over VCU in the Cavaliers' home finale.
What it will take is a three-game sweep of North Carolina in the final regular season series for both clubs. That series begins Thursday night in Chapel Hill.
"We can't go down there with the attitude of that we're trying to sweep North Carolina," O'Connor said. "We're going to try to win Thursday."
Virginia enters the series with a 20-7 ACC record this season, while the Tar Heels are 20-5 in the conference. Because winning percentage is the league's first tie-breaker for tournament seeding, a Cavalier loss this weekend clinches the Coastal Division title -- and the league's top seed -- for UNC.
"I would definitely say it's a goal of ours, to obviously finish first in the division," said Virginia sophomore Nick Howard. "But we're just going to take it one game at a time. And if that's how it ends up playing out, then that's great."
"You know, anything can happen," O'Connor said. "North Carolina's got a great club. They're deserving of being one of the top teams in the country. When you have the kind of record that they do this year, and the experience that they have. We're going down there and just going to play our baseball. And hopefully we have some success."
Virginia enters the series ranked seventh in the country in every major national poll. The Tar Heels had spent much of the spring ranked No. 1 in the country, until losing two of three at Georgia Tech knocked the Tar Heels to second or third, depending on the poll.
"UNC is obviously a good team. We're a good team as well. So going into the weekend, obviously both teams are going to have the same sort of outlook," sophomore outfielder Derek Fisher said. "But whoever plays the best is obviously going to come out on top."
"It's going to show what this team is made of, going into the postseason," said Howard. "And if we can come out with a series win, that's going to do wonders for our confidence going into that."
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