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Virginia baseball team tries to turn around rocky start
COLLEGE BASEBALL

Virginia baseball team tries to turn around rocky start

Baseball America pegged Virginia as a top-5 college baseball team nationally entering this season. Through 15 games, the Cavaliers are unranked after starting 7-8 overall and 2-7 in ACC action.

It’s clearly not the start the Wahoos wanted, but even after being swept by Notre Dame over the weekend, they’re trying to stay positive ahead of Wednesday’s midweek game with Towson (2-12).

“Obviously we’re being challenged right now with nobody expecting it to start off like this,” redshirt senior catcher Logan Michaels said, “but the biggest thing is just showing up every day, sticking together through this tough time and finding ways to get better each and every day to improve down the road.”

If there is a silver lining for UVa, it’s that 35 games remain on the schedule. There’s plenty of time for the Cavaliers to turn their season around, but Virginia needs to show improvement soon.

UVa sits at the bottom of the ACC in several offensive categories, including home runs. The offense strikes out at an alarming rate. Nine Virginia players have at least 35 at-bats. Of that group, six of the players have more strikeouts than hits.

As a team, UVa has 130 strikeouts compared to 111 hits. The team batting average sits at just .227.

Michaels recorded a 4-for-4 outing at the plate Sunday against Notre Dame, and he leads the team with a .294 batting average. Despite the individual success at the plate, Michaels worries only about winning. He returned for a final season for a chance to play in the College World Series, and his team has plenty of work to do for that dream to seem reasonable.

“If we’re losing games, it doesn’t really matter,” Michaels said of his 4-for-4 day. “I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help our team and get a W.”

While the bats have been cold through 15 games, the pitching started the season tremendously. The stellar performances faded against Notre Dame.

In the three-game series, UVa’s starting pitchers tossed 9 1/3 innings and allowed 10 earned runs. The group struggled, and Notre Dame took advantage.

“Our pitching has been, candidly, really spectacular the whole year, and it wasn’t this weekend,” head coach Brian O’Connor said.

The early exits from starters meant using a bunch of guys out of the bullpen. The toll on those arms may impact the team in Wednesday’s game against Towson. There’s a trickle-down effect across a weekend or stretch of games when starters can’t pitch at least five frames.

“You’re gonna have a tough time winning games when your starter doesn’t pitch deep into the ball game,” O’Connor said.

Between a bad weekend of pitching, hitting lulls and occasional fielding mishaps — UVa made three errors in its Saturday loss — the Cavaliers want better play in every area of the game. O’Connor stressed that for the team to start succeeding and reaching its potential, everyone needs to play better.

UVa isn’t panicking ahead of Wednesday afternoon’s game with Towson, but the Cavaliers know their slow start means they need to start stacking wins together.

For a group that wants to contend for a national championship, it’s time to start playing like a top-tier team.

“They’ve got to stand up and fight,” O’Connor said. “They’ve got to be better. We’ve just got to be more productive. That’s it, and it doesn’t just happen. You don’t say, OK, we’re gonna start winning them. They’ve got to earn them.”

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