UVa baseball rolls into the post-season

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.

Wahoo baseball is rollin'

Another great weekend for the baseball team. Yeah, it was just Duke, but still...these are games Virginia must win. The Hoos are ranked number one in the country, swept Duke, and perhaps most importantly, moved into a tie atop the Coastal Division in the ACC standings. Glad to see Coach O'Connor's guys taking care of business.

Chanticleers?

Nice win for the Virginia baseball team yesterday over Coastal Carolina. Ordinarily, a victory over Coastal Carolina in any sport wouldn't be considered much to write about, but the baseball Chanticleers are pretty darn good:

Coastal Carolina's baseball team is not accustomed to losing. Then again, not every day do the Chanticleers face an opponent ranked No. 1 nationally by Baseball America.

This week that team is UVa, and the Wahoos (35-9) showed why Tuesday night. Thanks to Phil Gosselin's second-inning grand slam, Virginia never trailed in a 6-3 win over 10th-ranked Coastal before 2,260 fans at Davenport.

Brian O'Connor's 300th victory as the Cavaliers' coach ended the Chanticleers' 17-game winning streak. Coastal (36-6) hadn't lost since March 28.

"We definitely were jacked up to go against those guys," said UVa catcher John Hicks, who went 2 for 4 and threw out two baserunners.

"They're a very good ball club, and you could definitely tell in the clubhouse before the game that we were ready to go, we were excited for it."

The team is looking really good right now; I'm anxious for the postseason to get here. I'm also excited to see the development of Branden Kline, who got the start against CCU and looked great. He's just going to be a stud next year, that's all.

More reactions from STL and Lambeth Field. One final note: every time I hear Chanticleers, that name reminds me of something that irritates me:

Disappointment

I understand Coach Brian O'Connor's disappointment; this was a brutal loss:

Inside, the Virginia skipper was stewing about the one that got away. His Cavaliers came within one strike of sweeping the visiting Hokies in the three-game set, but instead the Cavs came unraveled in the ninth inning and dropped an 8-5 decision.

In the process, his two most reliable relievers, Kevin Arico and Tyler Wilson failed in the clutch, allowing Tech to score five runs in the top of the ninth for the win.

Until then, the day had gone pretty well for the Wahoos. Playing before a third consecutive sellout crowd of 4,219, Virginia had found a way to beat the heat of Hokies starter Jesse Hahn, who hit the 96 mph mark with regularity on the day. Sunday starter Cody Winiarski had handcuffed Tech’s batting lineup, scattering four hits and issuing no bases on balls. Reliever Branden Kline gave UVa two flawless innings of relief and centerfielder Jarrett Parker seemed to have rediscovered his batting groove with a 3 for 4 (two RBI) day, including a home run.

Losing a game like that is always a punch in the gut, but losing to the Hokies in this fashion...well, that's another thing entirely. Am I the only person who still isn't comfortable when Arico comes into the game? He kinda scares me far too often.

Still, let's keep it in perspective. The Hokies aren't a bad team -- they are ranked in the top twenty -- and the Hoos did take two of the three games. Yes, a sweep would've been nice, but that happens. The Hoos are going to have to put it behind them, because they have some work to do to keep pace in the ACC. They can't let Georgia Tech and Miami get too far ahead.