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Baseball brings in finals break with trip to Old Dominion

ACC Player of the Week Matt Thaiss leads Virginia into in-state clash

Fresh off their disappointing series loss to NC State, 23rd-ranked Virginia baseball travels to Harbor Park — the home of the triple-A Norfolk Tides — for a Tuesday contest with Old Dominion.

Fans of the program were left scratching their heads yet again after a bizarre weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Wolfpack mashed two walk-off homers to sweep Sunday’s doubleheader and take the series from the Cavaliers (27-17, 10-14 ACC).

Virginia now turns its attention to the next task at hand — facing the Monarchs. On March 11, Old Dominion (20-23, 7-14 C-USA) drubbed the Cavaliers at Davenport Field to the tune of a 14-5 blowout. At the time it was only Virginia’s second loss in 13 games, but the Cavaliers would drop the next three games and six of their next eight contests.

Virginia’s starting lineup is a much different beast than it was 47 days ago. In the first matchup, coach Brian O’Connor was without the services of juniors Robbie Coman and Joe McCarthey and freshman Jack Gerstenmaier. Now, all three are healthy and making impacts.

Coman is currently in the midst of a red-hot stretch at the plate. Since the Georgia Tech series two weekends ago, the Cavaliers’ starting catcher is 20-for-47. Additionally, the Lake Worth, Fla. native is riding an eight-game hitting streak.

“Sometimes it takes a while to get back into the swing of things,” Coman said after the April 17 game against Miami. “It [feels] good to get some hits and get your confidence back.”

Coman’s teammate — sophomore first baseman Matt Thaiss — has been equally locked-in at the dish. The reigning ACC Player of the Week went 11-for-23 with one home run, four doubles and 11 runs batted in that span. Thaiss’ .342 batting average leads the team and is 12th-best in the conference.

“It’s a lot about what we do here — Iron Cav, our lifting stuff,” Thaiss said of his power surge this season. “Some luck plays into it — I’ve had a lot of that.”

In the first game between the two teams, Thaiss went two-for-four with two runs scored and two RBI. He also cranked his sixth homer of the season.

“I struggled with [making consistent contact] last season, and I think I’m doing a much better job at that,” Thaiss said.

Senior Greg Tomchick faces the unenviable task of starting on the mound against the Cavaliers. Tomchick brings a 3-4 record and a 3.65 ERA with him into Tuesday’s start. The Monarch leader in strikeouts allowed four runs in two innings of relief in his only other appearance against Virginia — a losing effort on April 1, 2014.

Freshman Adam Haseley will make a mid-week start for the second consecutive week. Last Wednesday against Liberty, Haseley threw four shutout innings, allowed four hits, struck out four and earned his first career win.

First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.