It doesn't get much better than this:
The top seed in the ACC tournament and the Coastal Division title had been secured by the time the first pitch was thrown at Miami’s Alex Rodriguez Park on Saturday.
Apparently, that was not enough for top-ranked Virginia in the regular-season finale.
The Cavaliers exploded early and held off a late rally from the ninth-ranked Hurricanes to secure a series-clinching 7-4 victory.
Virginia improved to 45-10 overall and 23-7 in the ACC entering the conference tournament, which starts Wednesday in Greensboro, N.C. The Cavaliers will be joined in their pool by fourth-seeded Miami, fifth-seeded Florida State and eighth-seeded Boston College, which used a tiebreaker to edge out North Carolina.
“To win two out of three in the final weekend to win the league title is a great accomplishment, especially to do it at Miami,” said Virginia coach Brian O’Connor. “Miami has an excellent club this year and we had to play great baseball to win the series with them.”
Let's just be honest: you can't stop Brian O'Connor, you can only hope to contain him. What he has done with this Virginia baseball program is remarkable.
Phase one of the season is complete, and UVa did what they had hoped: win the regular season ACC title. Phase two begins now, and there is no rest for the weary:
John Hicks, Steven Proscia and Keith Werman mulled over the group of teams that the top-ranked Cavaliers (45-10, 23-7 ACC) were given for the upcoming ACC tournament in Greensboro, N.C.
As a reward for landing the event’s top seed, Virginia was “graciously” given single games in pool play with eighth-seeded Boston College, fifth-seeded Florida State and fourth-seeded Miami.
Two of the Cavaliers’ foes (FSU and Miami) entered the week ranked seventh and 14th, respectively, in the nation. The other, Boston College, swept N.C. State, just earned a bid by beating Georgia Tech and leads the league in fielding percentage.
“I was talking to Proscia and ‘Jaz’ [Hicks] and we were like, ‘Wow, Florida State and Miami and Boston College? There’s no easy win there,’” Werman recounted. “But at the same time we were like, ‘Shoot, we are in the best conference in the country.’
“We are never going to be in a spot for an easy win.”
That's an understatement. What a tough group of teams.
Virginia will open with BC on Wednesday, at noon. I'm hoping we'll see Branden Kline get that start, but Coach O'Connor hasn't made that decision yet.
One last note: UVa got the top seed, but there is another thing that makes this even sweeter. Behold:
There is one thing, however, missing from the eight-team event: North Carolina.
The Tar Heels, despite sweeping the Hokies this weekend and making four straight trips to Omaha, lost out to BC on a complex tiebreaker since the two never faced in head-to-head competition.
Heh. Go Hoos.