Forty two times this season a UVa game has ended in high five celebration in the middle of the infield. Any time coach Brian O'Connor writes down a lineup, there's a 74 percent chance it'll win. O'Connor has 503 wins and just 102 losses with a regular season-ending series at Wake Forest slated to begin Thursday night, weather-permitting.
"We've been able to stay in that upper part of college baseball this year because of great pitching. I think we play really, really consistent defense, especially on our infield, and there's a lot of athleticism in our lineup," O’Connor said following an 8-2 win over Liberty last week.
Statistics back that statement up. UVa is tied for second nationally in fielding and they're fifth in team earned run average (ERA). They can win close - UVa is 13-3 in one-run games and win big - they've scored 10 or more runs 8 times.
Infielder Kenny Towns said, "We haven't been hitting the ball as well as we'd like to but we're executing when we need to and manufacturing runs enough to win games and I think that's been key for us."
Typically a team's best three pitchers pitch on the weekends. UVa's Artie Lewicki has not been that exclusive rotation but he still has a 1.62 ERA. Following the Liberty game, O’Connor hinted Lewicki would have a prominent role come tournament time.
"Talent-wise in the way [Lewicki’s] pitching he could pitch at the front end of somebody's rotation and certainly that's a luxury for us."
So is winning. For the past five weeks UVa has been number one in the Baseball America Top 25.
"I think we maintain it by not paying attention to it to be honest. We just come out and treat every day like it's the same. We treat Wednesday like we're playing Liberty or we're playing Florida State. Our plan is the same. Our attack is the same. As long as we execute I think we can maintain the position we're in," Lewicki explained.
O’Connor added, "We haven't gotten consumed in being the number one ranked team. We've been consumed with just playing good, consistent baseball and bringing it out there every night."
More reasons why the Cavs are 64-8 at home over the past two seasons and why they have yet to lose an ACC series this season.
UVa has been ranked number one for a majority of the season but oddly enough, if the ACC Tournament started today (May 15th), UVa would be the three seed. Miami is 22-5 in conference play. UVa is 21-6. Florida State would be the 2 seed as the leader of the Atlantic Division.