After dropping four of its first six ACC games, the Virginia baseball team is thrilled to finally play conference games in Charlottesville.
The Cavaliers (7-5, 2-4 ACC) welcome No. 25 Notre Dame (4-2, 4-2 ACC) to town Friday for the start of a three-game weekend series. It’s UVa’s first home ACC series of the spring after winning just one game in each series at North Carolina and Florida State.
“Coming back home for this long stretch is gonna be good for us,” senior outfielder Brendan Rivoli said Tuesday. “I’m really excited to be back here, and I think we’re going to really play well these next few games and that’s gonna give us a lot of momentum to continue the rest of the season that way.”
Since the start of the 2018 season, Virginia is 41-21 at home. Away from Disharoon Park, the Cavaliers are 12-20. Competition level often increases on the road for UVa, but the Cavaliers also perform better when in the comfortable confines of their own ballpark.
This weekend’s opponent, however, is a road warrior.
Notre Dame opened the season with ACC road series victories against Wake Forest and Clemson. It has won six of its last eight ACC road series, including its last three. Interestingly, the Fighting Irish dropped the series opener in both three-game ACC sets this season, winning the final two games of the weekend against both Wake Forest and Clemson.
They shook off allowing 13 runs in a series-opening loss to Clemson last weekend to win the next two games 3-1 and 3-2.
“Can’t say enough about the toughness of the team, especially after Friday’s ballgame,” Notre Dame head coach Link Jarrett said after the series. “They have worked very hard for their opportunities to play these games, and the in-game grit has shown.”
The Fighting Irish have allowed 23 runs across two Friday games, but they held Wake Forest and Clemson to seven runs in four weekend games. For a Virginia lineup seeking more consistency, this weekend will be a challenge.
UVa has yet to score more than four runs in an ACC contest, and it has scored three or fewer runs in five of its six ACC games.
Virginia coach Brian O’Connor called the pitching in the ACC this season “pretty spectacular.” Even against elite pitching, the Cavaliers believe they can generate more offense. UVa’s head coach liked Virginia’s approach in Tuesday’s 7-0 win over Richmond.
“I thought overall our at-bats were more competitive,” O’Connor said. “We only had five strikeouts, which was good to see.”
Virginia hopes another stellar midweek showing leads to ACC success.
Fortunately for the Cavaliers, they’ll have chances to improve their record at home. After hosting Notre Dame, the Cavaliers welcome Pitt to town the following weekend. The weekend after that, Miami comes to Charlottesville.
“We gotta play better baseball on the weekend,” O’Connor said. “We gotta play more consistent, quality baseball to win a series. The nice thing, I told the players after the game, we get a chance to be here right in our own ballpark for a few weeks. We need to take advantage of that and play some great baseball while we’re here at home.”