Next stop for Virginia: The College World Series
Cavaliers come back to defeat Maryland in three-game super regional at Davenport Field
It’s official: the Virginia baseball team is headed to Omaha.
The No. 3 Cavaliers trumped longtime ACC rival Maryland, 11-2, Monday night at Davenport Field, crushing the do-or-die game of the NCAA Baseball Championship’s Charlottesville Super Regional and booking their third trip to the College World Series since coach Brian O’Connor, associate head coach Kevin McMullan and assistant coach Karl Kuhn came to town 11 years ago.
“I’m just so proud of this team,” O’Connor said. “I think in all phases of the game, this team is pretty special. I’m excited to see them go out to Omaha and compete for a national championship.”
Sophomore right-hander Josh Sborz led the way in the field, firing seven scoreless frames and fanning nine Terrapins in his first start since May 10. Junior third baseman Kenny Towns came up big at the plate, driving in four runs on three hits — including a first-inning triple that scored junior left fielder Derek Fisher and sophomore right fielder Joe McCarthy for a 3-0 lead.
The Cavaliers (49-14, 22-8 ACC) piled on the runs from there, doubling their lead in the third inning and quashing Maryland’s late push with a five-run eighth. Virginia finished with 13 hits, upping its total to 30 in the last two days.
After dropping Saturday’s series opener by a 5-4 final score, the Cavaliers faced swift elimination at the hands of a dangerous Maryland ball club making its first NCAA Baseball Championship appearance since 1971. The Terrapins (40-23, 15-14 ACC) had already dismissed South Carolina from the Columbia Regional despite playing on the Gamecocks’ home field.
But Virginia refused to go quietly.
Sophomore starter Brandon Waddell battled Sunday as the Cavaliers gained a 2-1 advantage through six innings. Virginia secured some breathing room with a three-run seventh that bounced Maryland freshman starter Mike Shawaryn from the ballgame. Senior right-hander Artie Lewicki showed his poise from there, mostly stymying Terrapin bats in a rare relief appearance as Virginia posted a 7-3 win.
As junior closer Nick Howard struck out junior center fielder Charlie White for the last out of Monday’s finale, he was mobbed by his teammates by the pitcher’s mound. Not only had the Cavaliers clinched the series — they had come back from a game down to do so.
“The past few years we stood on our field while another team dog piled, so we finally got the opportunity to do that,” junior center fielder Brandon Downes said. “It is just a huge confidence booster for us going into Omaha.”