No. 14 baseball takes on Rutgers in first home series
Cavaliers hope to extend four-game win streak
Though it has not come easy, a four-game winning streak to start the season has the No. 13 Virginia baseball team primed to continue rising in national rankings. The Cavaliers (4-0) this weekend will take on Rutgers (1-2) at Davenport Field to open series play.
Comebacks have defined Virginia’s season thus far. After starting their season with two relatively easy wins against Liberty and The Citadel, the Cavaliers gave up early leads in their last two games, having to mount big rallies in each to pick up wins. The team’s latest win — its home opener against Virginia Military Institute Tuesday — came back from being down 2-0 to score the victory.
Though the game against VMI wasn’t the prettiest of wins, coach Brian O’Connor praised his team’s toughness in grinding out a victory.
“I was proud of our guys' resiliency in the ballgame. It's a great quality that you have to have,” O’Connor said. “Certainly, the last two games, falling behind going into the late innings by four or six runs is not what you want to get used to, but it happens and our guys showed a lot of character.”
The game against VMI was win No. 600 of O’Connor’s very successful head coaching career — all of which has taken place at Virginia. The five-time ACC Coach of the Year upped his career winning percentage to 72.7 with the win Tuesday.
This season, O’Connor’s winning percentage has been helped most by Virginia’s deep offense. Junior Pavin Smith has led the charge in the power hitting department thus far with two home runs and eight RBIs in the first four games. Additionally, sophomore outfielder Jake McCarthy has started hot with a .444 batting average to go along with some clutch hitting. Different Cavaliers step up each night to spark the team’s offense, and against VMI, sophomore second baseman Andy Weber came through with three RBIs.
Rutgers opened its season last weekend with a three-game set at Miami, going 1-2 overall. The Scarlet Knights’ bats heated up as the weekend progressed — after getting shut out in the first game, they scored a whopping 17 runs against the Hurricanes in the final game to avoid a sweep. Virginia will have to hold steady on the mound to prevent Rutgers from going on scoring runs — something the inconsistent Cavalier pitchers have struggled with so far this season.
The hot bats of Virginia and Rutgers will clash this weekend in a three-game set, running Friday through Sunday. First pitch between the Cavaliers and Scarlet Knights is set for Friday at 3 p.m. at Davenport Field.