Virginia Cavaliers baseball

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Virginia Cavaliers
2023 Virginia Cavaliers baseball team
Founded1889; 135 years ago (1889)
UniversityUniversity of Virginia
Head coachBrian O'Connor (20th season)
ConferenceACC
Coastal Division
LocationCharlottesville, Virginia
Home stadiumDavenport Field at Disharoon Park
(Capacity: 5,919)
NicknameCavaliers
ColorsOrange and blue[1]
   
NCAA Tournament champions
2015
College World Series runner-up
2014
College World Series appearances
2009, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2021, 2023
NCAA regional champions
2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2021, 2023
NCAA Tournament appearances
1972, 1985, 1996, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2021, 2022, 2023
Conference tournament champions
1996, 2009, 2011
Regular season conference champions
1972, 2010, 2011

The Virginia Cavaliers baseball team represents the University of Virginia in NCAA Division I college baseball. Established in 1889, the team participates in the Coastal division of the Atlantic Coast Conference and plays its home games at Davenport Field at Disharoon Park. The team's head coach is Brian O'Connor. The team has reached the College World Series six times, most recently in 2023, and won the national championship in 2015.

History[edit]

Virginia played its first baseball game, a 13–4 win over Richmond College, in 1889. The Cavaliers had limited success in their first 100 years of play, winning their first ACC regular season title and making their NCAA tournament debut in 1972 under Jim West and returning in 1985 and 1996 under Dennis Womack, failing to advance past regional play. They won their first ACC tournament championship in 1996 behind the pitching of All-American righthander Seth Greisinger. One highlight was the performance of left-handed pitcher Eppa Rixey, who won 266 games for the Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds from 1912–1933 and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a Veterans Committee selection in 1963.

In 1966, left-handed pitcher Edward Turnbull became the program's first MLB draft pick, going to the Baltimore Orioles in the 17th round. Outfielder Brian Buchanan was the first Virginia player to become a first-round pick, going to the New York Yankees in the 1994 draft.

Tiering proposal and Davenport Field[edit]

In 2001, the program was threatened by recommendations from a university task force that would have split the school's sports into four tiers, with each tier funded differently. The baseball program was placed in the lowest tier and would have lost the ability to offer athletic scholarships if the recommendation was implemented, but the university's Board of Visitors rejected the proposal.[2]

The next year, the Virginia athletic department took steps to increase the program's competitiveness, notably renovating the team's stadium, which was renamed Davenport Field after longtime athletic administrator and former baseball coach Ted Davenport, who had died in 2001. The expansion was funded by $2 million in anonymous donations, believed to have come from bestselling author John Grisham,[3] a Charlottesville resident whose son, Ty, played for the team. Before the renovation, the field did not have lights, and the infield was made of artificial turf handed down from an old football facility. Bermuda grass was installed during the renovations.

Brian O'Connor era[edit]

Womack stepped down in 2004, and Notre Dame associate head coach Brian O'Connor took over and made an immediate impact, with the program hosting its first NCAA regional in his first season. The Cavaliers have made the NCAA tournament every year from 2004-2017, and again from 2021-2023. The Cavaliers have claimed two ACC regular season titles under Coach O'Connor and captured ACC tournament championships in 2009 and 2011.

Virginia hosted NCAA regionals again in 2006 and 2007, but did not advance until 2009. That year, the Cavaliers won the Irvine Regional, defeating San Diego State ace Stephen Strasburg in the process, and defeated Ole Miss in the Oxford Super Regional to advance to the program's first College World Series. The Cavaliers would finish fifth, falling to eventual National Champion Louisiana State in their first game, eliminating #2 national seed Cal State Fullerton in their second game, and then bowing out in a 12-inning loss to Arkansas.

A Virginia batter swings during a game in 2009 as teammates look on

The Cavaliers won the Charlottesville Regional again in 2010, but fell to Oklahoma in the Charlottesville Super Regional. In 2011, entering the NCAA tournament as the top overall seed, they swept the Charlottesville Regional and rallied from a ninth-inning deficit to defeat UC Irvine on a two-run single from Chris Taylor in the Charlottesville Super Regional's decisive game three. They finished third in the College World Series, defeating California twice before twice losing to eventual champion South Carolina, with the elimination loss coming in 13 innings. The 2011 season also witnessed the only perfect game in Virginia baseball history, an accomplishment achieved by UVA pitcher Will Roberts during a March 30 win over George Washington.[4] In 2013, Virginia swept the Charlottesville Regional before losing to Mississippi State in the Charlottesville Super Regional.

During an impressive 2014 campaign, the Cavaliers finished 53-16 and were rewarded with the #3 National Seed. After sweeping past Arkansas and Bucknell in the Charlottesville Regional and defeating border rival Maryland in the Charlottesville Super Regional, the Cavaliers returned to the College World Series for the first time in three seasons. They would sweep their side of the bracket, defeating Ole Miss (twice) and TCU to advance to the CWS Finals for the first time in school history. After splitting the first two games, UVA would fall to Vanderbilt 3-2 in a decisive Game 3 of the College World Series finals, ending the most successful season in school history up to that point.

2015 NCAA Champions[edit]

In 2015, an injury-riddled Virginia team slumped in the regular season and needed a series win in the final regular-season series at North Carolina to sew up a bid in the ACC tournament. They made the NCAA tournament as a No. 3 seed and swept through the Lake Elsinore Regional, defeating Southern California (twice) and San Diego State. They hosted Maryland in the Charlottesville Super Regional and clinched a trip to the College World Series on Ernie Clement's two-run single in the bottom of the ninth of the second game.

In Omaha, Virginia defeated Arkansas and Florida (twice) to set up a finals rematch with Vanderbilt. The Commodores won the first game 5–1 before the Cavaliers evened the series with a 3–0 victory behind five innings from surprise starter Adam Haseley and four from Josh Sborz. Virginia fell behind early in the decisive third game, giving up two runs in the first inning, but Pavin Smith homered to pull the Cavaliers even and singled to score Haseley with the eventual winning run. Brandon Waddell threw seven strong innings, aided by an acrobatic, run-saving stop from third baseman Kenny Towns, as the Cavaliers won 4–2 to capture the program's first national championship and the first for an ACC program since Wake Forest in 1955.

Lean Years and Return to Omaha[edit]

The 2015 National Champions followed that title up with another strong campaign in 2016, finishing 38-20 overall and 19-11 in the ACC. The Cavaliers were rewarded with the #12 national seed in the 2016 NCAA tournament and hosted the Charlottesville Regional, but were eliminated in three games. The Cavaliers followed up 2016 with another successful campaign in 2017, finishing 43-16 overall and 18-12 in the ACC. Despite the strong record, Virginia was denied the chance to host a regional, being sent to the TCU-hosted Fort Worth regional, falling in three games.

The 2018 Virginia baseball team finished 29-25 overall, 12-18 in conference play, missing the NCAA tournament for the first time since the 2003 season. The team was slightly improved in 2019, finishing 32-24, 14-16 in conference, but once again missed the NCAA tournament. The 2020 team got off to a hot start, beginning the season with a 13-2 record and upsetting #8 in NC State in the ACC-opening series. On March 12, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Virginia and the ACC announced the season will be suspended until further notice. On March 17, 2020, the Atlantic Coast Conference announced all spring sports would be cancelled for the remainder of the season.[5]

The Cavaliers would return to the Diamond and the NCAA tournament, finishing 36-27 overall, 18-18 in the ACC. They were rewarded with the 3-seed in the Columbia Regional. After falling to 2-seed and host South Carolina (Regional 1-seed Old Dominion was unable to host due to Covid-19 protocol[6]), Virginia rallied to defeat Jacksonville, South Carolina, and Old Dominion twice to advance to the Super Regionals. During this regional, Cavalier closer Stephen Schoch would go viral for his remarks during a post-game interview, being positively compared to fictional pitcher Kenny Powers.[7] The Cavaliers would then face Dallas Baptist in the Columbia Super Regional, defeating the Patriots in three games to advance to the CWS for the first time since their 2015 title. The Cavaliers would defeat #3 National seed Tennessee before falling to #7 seed and eventual National Champion Mississippi State and #2 seed Texas, ending an impressive postseason run.

Virginia would finish 39–19 (17–13 ACC) in 2022, being rewarded with the 2-seed in the East Carolina-hosted Greenville Regional. After defeating Coastal Carolina in their first game, UVA would lose consecutive games to ECU and CCU to end their season.

Virginia would respond with a stellar season in 2023, finishing the regular season with a 45–12 record, 19–11 in the ACC, and catcher Kyle Teel won the ACC Player of the Year [8] award, becoming the first Cavalier to do so since Sean Doolittle in 2006. Virginia would receive the #7 National Seed and defeat Army and East Carolina twice to win the Charlottesville Regional. They defeated Duke 2 games to 1 in the Charlottesville Super Regional to reach the College World Series. However, their run ended there as they lost to Florida and TCU to end their season with a 50–15 record.

Notable former players[edit]

Active Major League Baseball (MLB) players[edit]

Notable former MLB players[edit]

First-Round MLB Draft Picks[edit]

(Includes supplemental and competitive-balance picks)

Honors[edit]

First-Team All-Americans[edit]

  • 1977: Jimmy Blankenship, P (BA)
  • 1978: Jimmy Blankenship, P (BA)
  • 1979: Jimmy Blankenship, P (BA)
  • 1994: Brian Buchanan, OF (BA)
  • 1996: Seth Greisinger, RHP (ABCA, BA, CB)
  • 2007: Jacob Thompson, RHP (ABCA, BA, CB)
  • 2009: Danny Hultzen, UTIL (ABCA)
  • 2010: Kevin Arico, RHP (NCBWA, CB)
  • 2010: Danny Hultzen, LHP (ABCA, CB, NCBWA)
  • 2011: Danny Hultzen, UTIL (BA, CB), LHP (ABCA)
  • 2013: Mike Papi, OF (ABCA, BA)
  • 2014: Nathan Kirby, LHP (ABCA, BA, CB)
  • 2016: Connor Jones, RHP (ABCA)
  • 2017: Adam Haseley, OF (ABCA, BA)

National Coach of the Year[edit]

  • 2006: Brian O'Connor (CBF)
  • 2009: Brian O'Connor (NCBWA, CBI)
  • 2015: Brian O'Connor (CB, PG, BA)

Legend:

College World Series All-Tournament Team[edit]

  • 2009
Tyler Cannon, SS
  • 2014
Branden Cogswell, 2B
Brandon Downes, OF
Nate Irving, C
Artie Lewicki, P
Brandon Waddell, P
  • 2015
Ernie Clement, 2B
Daniel Pinero, SS
Kenny Towns, 3B
Josh Sborz, P
Brandon Waddell, P
  • 2021
Zack Gelof, 3B

College World Series Most Outstanding Player[edit]

  • 2015: Josh Sborz, P

ACC Player of the Year[edit]

  • 1977: Jimmy Blankenship, P/SS
  • 1978: Jimmy Blankenship, P/SS
  • 2004: Joe Koshansky, P/1B
  • 2006: Sean Doolittle, P/1B
  • 2023: Kyle Teel, C[9]

ACC Pitcher of the Year[edit]

  • 1977: Jimmy Blankenship
  • 1978: Jimmy Blankenship
  • 2010: Danny Hultzen
  • 2011: Danny Hultzen
  • 2014: Nathan Kirby (co-winner)

ACC Coach of the Year[edit]

  • 1987: Dennis Womack
  • 2004: Brian O'Connor
  • 2010: Brian O'Connor
  • 2011: Brian O'Connor
  • 2013: Brian O'Connor
  • 2014: Brian O'Connor

Head coaches[edit]

When West died on May 24, 2009, the Cavaliers added a black circle with the number "24" above the team name on their uniforms for the rest of the season. West had worn that number when he was coach.[11]

Virginia in the NCAA tournament[edit]

Year Record Pct Notes
1972 2–2 .500
1985 1–2 .333
1996 3–2 .600
2004 2–2 .500 Hosted Charlottesville Regional
2005 0–2 .000
2006 1–2 .333 Hosted Charlottesville Regional
2007 2–2 .500 Hosted Charlottesville Regional
2008 1–2 .333
2009 6–3 .667 College World Series 5th Place
2010 4–3 .571 Hosted Charlottesville Regional and Super Regional
2011 7–3 .700 College World Series 3rd Place
2012 1–2 .333 Hosted Charlottesville Regional
2013 3–2 .600 Hosted Charlottesville Regional and Super Regional
2014 9–3 .750 College World Series 2nd Place
2015 10–2 .833 College World Series Champion
2016 1–2 .333 Hosted Charlottesville Regional
2017 1–2 .333
2021 7–4 .636 College World Series
2022 1–2 .333
2023 5–3 .625 College World Series
TOTALS
67–47 .588

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Athletics Color Palette". University of Virginia Consumer Product Brand Standards (PDF). Retrieved January 16, 2023.
  2. ^ "Athletics Task Force Report Recommends Restructuring Of Sports Program, Finances, Academic Support". University of Virginia - Official Athletics Website. University of Virginia. April 6, 2001. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  3. ^ Reedy, Jim (June 7, 2004). "Grisham Helps Cavs Open New Chapter". The Washington Post. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  4. ^ "Will Roberts Throws First Perfect Game in Virginia History". 30 March 2011.
  5. ^ "ACC Cancels All Athletic Activities Through End of 2019–20 Academic Year". theacc.com. Atlantic Coast Conference. 17 March 2020. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  6. ^ Portnoy, Ben (4 June 2021). "Old Dominion headlines regional at USC. Monarchs hope to one day host NCAAs at home". The State. Retrieved 5 September 2023.
  7. ^ "How Stephen Schoch went from submarine closer to college baseball cult hero".
  8. ^ "Teel Voted ACC Player of the Year, Seven Cavaliers Honored". 22 May 2023.
  9. ^ "Teel Voted ACC Player of the Year, Seven Cavaliers Honored". 22 May 2023.
  10. ^ "Bunny Corcoran New Va. Baseball Coach". Prescott Evening Courier. April 2, 1943. Retrieved 10 February 2024.
  11. ^ "Former UVa Coach/Administrator Jim West Dies - University of Virginia Cavaliers Official Athletic Site - VirginiaSports.com". www.virginiasports.com. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  12. ^ "Vandy wins 1st CWS championship". ESPN.com. June 26, 2014. Retrieved June 26, 2015.
  13. ^ Axisa, Mike (June 24, 2015). "College World Series, Day 12: Virginia wins first national championship". CBSSports.com. Retrieved June 26, 2015.