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.

How good is the baseball team doing?

It doesn't get a whole lot better than this, from Baseball America:

Virginia allowed just six runs in its first-ever three-game sweep of North Carolina, running its winning streak to 14 games—tied with Jackson State for longest active streak in the nation. UVa. now leads the ACC by two games over Miami and Georgia Tech. Jr. OF Jarrett Parker had two hits in each game to lead the Cavaliers' offense. After UNC tied the first game of Saturday's doubleheader with a run in the top of the ninth, Jr. OF John Barr delivered a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the frame. In the nightcap, Jr. RHP Robert Morey (9 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K) became the first Cavalier to throw back-to-back complete games since Andrew Dobies in 2004. Jr. RHP Tyler Wilson (5.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R) earned the win in relief Sunday, as Virginia capped its comeback from an early 3-0 deficit with So. 1B John Hicks' walk-off three-run homer in the ninth. It was UVa.'s first walk-off homer since David Adams hit one against Georgia Tech in 2007. The series drew a school-record 13,294 fans.

Wow. Just wow. I almost can't believe they're talking about our Hoos.

Perfect Baseball Weekend

As far as I'm concerned, this was a perfect weekend of baseball. My Cincinnati Reds found themselves in the unfamiliar position of being atop the standings after taking a series from St. Louis. Then, there was this:

John Hicks needed only to stay near the batter’s box long enough to wave his hands towards fair territory to evoke Red Sox great Carlton Fisk’s famous home run from the 1975 World Series.

Instead, the Virginia sophomore raced to first base, looking to the left as his powerful right-handed stroke provided a game-ending homer that caromed halfway up the foul pole in left field.

The three-run smash from the former Goochland High School star ultimately lifted top-ranked Virginia to a 5-3 victory over North Carolina in front of a sellout crowd of 4,825 at Davenport Field, giving the Cavaliers their first three-game sweep over the Tar Heels in program history.

Awesome. Next up, the Hoos will host VMI before beginning a huge series with Miami on Thursday. That series has big implications for the ACC title race. I can't wait....

*By the way, the Reds won the 1975 World Series referenced in the block quote above. :)

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: