Making the Case: Virginia Cavaliers Baseball

Preseason Favorite Cavaliers Eye Return to Omaha

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It has already been a roller coaster of a season for the preseason top-ranked Virginia Cavaliers. Whether due to injuries or offensives woes, the Hoos have faced disappointment so far this year.

Despite this disappointment, Virginia (33-19, 15-15) has a very strong chance of making the NCAA Tournament. UVa is ranked 19th in the nation in RPI and boasts a 9-1 neutral record. This bodes well for the Cavaliers in the eyes of the selection committee.

The fact that expectations are so huge in Charlottesville shows you how high Coach Brian O’Connor has set the bar.

The Virginia baseball team opens postseason play at 11 a.m. today when it takes on Georgia Tech in the first play-in game of the 2015 ACC Baseball Championship at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

Let’s take a closer look as to how Virginia can make another run to Omaha in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.

Playoff Mode

Virginia, who sat 11th in the league standings just ten days ago, will be the 7 seed when they play 10th-seeded Georgia Tech in an ACC Tournament play-in game.

UVa is coming into the ACC Tournament on a hot streak. The Cavs have won six of their last seven games. Virginia is also coming off a road sweep of UNC, which was a first in school history.

During Virginia’s impressive performance this past weekend in Chapel Hill, the Hoos exploded for 16 runs and 30 hits over the final 20 innings of the series. Combine that with a bevy of talented left-handed pitchers and Virginia is a scary team.

Adam Haseley (Fr., Windermere, Fla.), David Rosenberger (Jr., Bethlehem, Pa.) and Kevin Doherty (Jr., Laytonsville, Md.) provide UVa with a consistent trio of left-handed pitching. Mix that in with the potential comeback of reigning co-ACC Pitcher of the Year, Nathan Kirby, and you’ve got a lefty lineup’s nightmare. 


Comeback Kid?

Speak of the devil! Out of all of Virginia’s injuries so far this season, none was more crushing than when All-American, LHP Nathan Kirby, went down six to eight weeks with a shoulder strain.

The good news for UVa fans is that the NCAA baseball tournament starts May 29th, exactly six weeks after Kirby suffered his injury against Miami (FL).

About a month ago, The Daily Progress talked to Dr. Derek Ochial, an orthopedic surgeon at Nirschi Orthopedic Center in Arlington, Va. Dr. Ochial believes that these types of injuries are short-lasting and provided some hope that Nathan Kirby could return for postseason play.

“I’m sure they’ll do everything possible for that six-week timeframe,” Dr. Ochial told Andrew Ramspacher of The Daily Progress. “If the injury’s not that severe, then there’ll be a good likelihood that he could [return for postseason play].”

Any glimpse of hope is great news for Wahoo nation. Kirby is 5-2 with a 2.28 ERA in 10 stars on the year. In 59 1/3 innings, he has allowed 50 hits and struck out an ACC-best (at the time) 75 batters.

A unanimous 2015 Preseason All-American and Golden Spikes Award candidate, Kirby is the ace of spades the Cavaliers desperately need.  


Cardiac Cavs

Virginia comes into postseason play returning 16 players from their 2014 NCAA Championship runner-up squad. As you recall, the Cavs had a heartbreaking ending to last season, losing 3-2 to Vanderbilt in Game 3 of the National title. 

However, walk off wins against Ole Miss and TCU during Virginia's run to the 2014 title series will only help the Cavs in terms of experience. Having been in big-time clutch scenarios only a year ago might fuel Virginia to leave nothing on the table this time around. 

Either way, UVa cannot dwell on the past and Hoos fans hope their team can make some more noise this postseason. Who knows, maybe the Cardiac Cavs will make another run to Omaha. Only time will tell.