Virginia baseball coach Brian O'Connor is in his 12 season at UVA and his 12 straight playoff appearance with the Cavaliers. Virginia is accustomed to hosting these affairs, but now they find themselves in unfamiliar territory on the road a long, long way from home.
Compounding the problems of traveling to the other side of the country to compete is the fact that the Cavaliers are entering the tournament riding a 3-game losing streak. Virginia was defeated by Miami, Notre Dame, and NC State, losing those 3 contests by a combined score of 27-11. A contributing factor to these lopsided defeats may be the youth of the Virginia offense. Out of all of the starters, only third baseman Kenny Towns is a senior. So while the program is certainly has a history and an understanding of how to win playoff games, much of the Cavalier offense will be treading on unfamiliar ground.
The Cavaliers have been average in most statistical categories in the ACC this year. A huge reason why is because Nathan Kirby (two-time First-Team All-ACC and a First-Team All-American in 2014) has not pitched since mid-April after suffering a lat strain on April 17th. Before he got injured, Kirby had a 5-2 record with a 2.28 era while striking out an astonishing 75 batters in 59.1 innings.
Kirby may be available this weekend according to head coach Brian O'Connor in a press conference earlier this week. Connor Jones (5-2, 3.05 era) has pitched well since taking over the #1 starter duties and should start the tourney opener against the Trojans. Jones last pitched on May 20th against Miami and went 7.1 innings while allowing four runs and striking out seven. Josh Sborz has been the team's primary closer and has 12 saves in 25 appearances.
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