Cavs take Tribe to bat
After mixed opening weekend, No. 17 baseball hopes to improve at home opener
The No. 17 Virginia men's baseball team returns to Charlottesville for its season-opener Wednesday afternoon against William and Mary after a tournament weekend which revealed both the team's vast potential and potential shortcomings.
The Cavaliers (1-1-1, 0-1 ACC) won a school-record 56 games a season ago while playing near-flawless baseball, their season culminating in a College World Series appearance. Expectations for the 2012 team are tempered, however, after eight players moved on to professional baseball and several more graduated. Virginia was picked to finish third in 2012 , not in the ACC but in the six-team Coastal Division.
"There's been years we've been picked to finish third or fourth in our division and won the league so that's all based on returning players in the league," coach Brian O'Connor said. "Those other teams deserve to be predicted to finish where they are because they have veteran ball clubs like we did last year."
The Cavaliers lost their season-opener Friday against Boston College 5-3 ; a far cry from a season ago when the team started 6-0 and won 19 of its first 20 games. Virginia defeated Coastal Carolina 9-3 Saturday afternoon before tying James Madison 4-4 in the nightcap of a Saturday doubleheader which was called after eight innings due to rain.
On a weekend in which several young pitchers delivered stand-out performances, a pair of corner infielders showed they could lead the Cavalier offense and a freshman outfielder thrived in the clean-up spot, Virginia's struggles stood out.
In Friday's loss to Boston College (3-0, 1-0 ACC) as part of the Caravelle Resort tournament, Virginia got its first notice that small mistakes could spoil strong individual performances. Junior pitcher Branden Kline, a 2011 first-team All-American closer, took the mound for Virginia. After cruising through the first three innings as the Cavaliers built a