Cavaliers Turn Their Attention to TCU

Sunday's victory put this year's Virginia baseball team at the 50-win plateau for the second straight season, and the fourth time under head coach Brian O'Connor.

But more importantly for the Cavaliers, it also moved UVa to 1-0 at this year's College World Series.

"Winning your first game here in Omaha this year is huge for us," said O'Connor. "It puts you one step closer to a potential national championship."

Neither of UVa's two previous CWS teams were able to win their first two games in Omaha. O'Connor's 2009 team lost its opener to LSU, en route to a 1-2 finish at the tournament. In 2011, the Cavaliers beat California in their opener, but lost their second game to South Carolina, and finished 2-2.

This year's team returns to the field Tuesday night against TCU, who beat Texas Tech 3-2 on Sunday afternoon.

"You don't want to fall into the losers' bracket early on. You don't want to use up all your pitching," said UVa junior Mike Papi, who gave the Cavaliers a 2-1 win over Ole Miss Sunday night with a walk-off double in the ninth inning.

"The next game is going to be even bigger than this," Papi said. "I know TCU's going to have a really good pitcher going for them. It's going to be huge for us to win the next game and be in that driver's seat, 2-0."

The Horned Frogs will start junior Brandon Finnegan against UVa on Tuesday night. The lefty is 9-3 with a 2.12 ERA, and his 129 strikeouts currently rank fifth in the country. Earlier this month, he was the No. 17 overall pick of the first round of the MLB draft.

UVa will counter with its own Texas-bred lefty named Brandon. Sophomore Brandon Waddell is 9-3 with a 2.66 ERA this season -- and has pitched in plenty of big games for the Wahoos in his two years with the team, including a 2-0 performance in this year's NCAA Tournament.

"It prepares you a lot," Waddell said Monday of that big-game experience. "You're going to face things that aren't going to go your way. But you know that you can get out of things. You can make pitches. You can trust the guys behind you. And regardless of what the situation is, what the scenario, you can really go out there and attack."

"He's had one heck of a career here, just in two years," said O'Connor. "And he's done a great job. If you think about it, as a true freshman to come in and be our No. 1. And then the job he's done this year has really been outstanding."

Sunday night's game was the first taste of College World Series baseball for Waddell, and most of his UVa teammates. A few players admitted after Sunday's game that they had some nerves in the first few innings.

But the Wahoos don't expect that to be an issue against TCU.

"All year we've been battling. We've been winning one-run games. We're used to it," said junior infielder Brandon Cogswell. "And the pressure didn't get to us, even in this kind of atmosphere."

"I mean, it's different. Just being here, it's a bigger stage," said junior third baseman Kenny Towns. "But I think everyone did a good job of just going out there and playing the game we've been playing the entire year. And maybe just to get those first-game jitters out of the way with a victory is going to help us a lot."


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