'Hoos Hope to Make Most of Finals Break

Brian O'Connor admits that the game of baseball is meant to be played every day. But he still thinks his team will benefit from its nine-day layoff between games, because of final exams.

"For this team at this time, this can be a real positive for us. And that's the way we need to look at it," O'Connor said Tuesday night, after his team's 11-3 win over VCU in Richmond. "They need to get their exams done. But we need to recharge our bodies physically, and get ready for this crucial stretch run that we have here at the end of the regular season."

Virginia's next game isn't until Friday, May 10, when the Cavaliers will open a three-game ACC series at Davenport Field against Duke. That Friday is also the last day of exams, which begin this Thursday.

"It's nice mentally, because we put so much into it on the field, and we're always locked in and focused," said sophomore catcher Nate Irving. "So it's nice to kind of give your mind a break mentally, and then get back after it."

"We take our finals. But we still stay in shape, and we're still getting reps, and we're still having a couple of practices here and there," senior second baseman Reed Gragnani explained. "And we stay in the flow of the game really well. So we don't look at it as time off. We're just kind of resting our bodies a little bit, but our competitive edge is still there."

At 39-8, this season marks the fourth time in five years that Virginia has hit the exams break with single-digit losses. Only the 2011 team that started 43-5 had fewer losses entering finals over that span.

Tuesday's win also allowed the Cavaliers to get past last weekend's rough performance at Virginia Tech. They say that makes the finals break a little easier.

"We just wanted to come out and play good baseball," Irving said of Tuesday's win. "The Virginia Tech series kind of left a sour taste in our mouth. So we just wanted to get out here, play good, fundamental baseball, and the results will take care of themselves."

"For us to get a win like we did, coming off a tough weekend at Virginia Tech, it's great for us," said Gragnani. "And we'll have this to reminisce on until Duke. So it feels good."

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