Wahoos a Win Away from CWS Finals

Josh Sborz went a month between starts for the Virginia baseball team -- then returned from that layoff with seven shutout innings against Maryland to get the Cavaliers to Omaha.

On Friday, Sborz will be back on the hill for the Wahoos -- with a chance to put UVa in the championship round of the College World Series with another win.

"I'm going to treat it like any other game, not going to try to make any pressure to myself or to my teammates," Sborz said Thursday morning, before the Cavaliers' practice at Creighton University. "I'm just going to try to keep it simple."

Sborz (5-4, 3.04 ERA) will face Ole Miss Friday night. The Rebels kept their season alive with a 6-4 win against TCU in Thursday night's elimination game. UVa beat Ole Miss 2-1 on Mike Papi's walk-off double in the CWS opener for both teams on Sunday night.

Sborz struck out nine and gave up just four hits in Game 3 of the Charlottesville Super Regional against the Terrapins.

"I mean, he was outstanding," said UVa coach Brian O'Connor. "His stuff is really, really top notch. He's got outstanding stuff. His poise was great. He made a lot of big, clutch pitches."

"It's just given me a lot of confidence," said Sborz. "I'm going to try to basically replicate what I did against Maryland. Just kind of attack the hitters as best I can. I'm gonna keep it real simple, like (pitching coach Karl Kuhn) said, and just bring it to the hitters, and let the defense field for me."

"When he's got command of all his pitches, he's deadly," said UVa second baseman Branden Cogswell. "And I love him on the mound. When he's got that command, he's fun to play behind."

With a win Friday night, the Cavaliers clinch a spot in the best-of-three championship round that begins Monday night. Whoever wins Thursday's game would have to beat UVa twice (they'd meet again Saturday if the Wahoos lose on Friday) to advance out of Bracket Two.

UVa hasn't lost games on back-to-back days all season. The Cavaliers' only back-to-back losses came at Wake Forest on May 17, then against Maryland at the ACC Tournament five days later.

"We've been able to respond all year. Rebound from a loss," said Cogswell. "And that's kind of a comfort thing. Coming back, we know we've done it in the past. And it just gives us confidence moving forward."

"What they've done all year long, not losing back-to-back games, speaks to the resiliency they have and everything," said O'Connor. "And certainly they can draw a lot of confidence from that. When you've done that all year long, you believe in yourself and your teammates, that if you're put in that position you'll come back and find a way."

But the Cavaliers say their primary goal is to win on Friday, then rest up for Monday night. O'Connor said Thursday that he hoped to have both Nick Howard and Artie Lewicki available to pitch Friday night. Howard is coming off a season-high four innings in Tuesday night's 15-inning win against TCU, while Lewicki has thrown two innings in each of the Cavaliers' first two games.

"You worked hard to be in this position. We'll do everything we can to win the game tomorrow night, if we're in that position. From a pitching standpoint, and everything else," said O'Connor. "But we'll take it as it comes, and hopefully we'll play a good baseball game tomorrow night and get it over with. But if not, we'll turn the page and be ready for the next night."

"It would be awesome to finish it off tomorrow. We could get those two extra days," said Cogswell. "But we've got to come out with a win in the next two games, and we're going to do what it takes to do that."

"You can't be in a better spot."


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