CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (VirginiaSports.com) – Virginia (35-25) will take on No. 3 national seed Tennessee (50-16) in its opening game of the NCAA Men’s College World Series on Sunday (June 20).
First pitch at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb. is set for 2 p.m.
- Virginia is in its fifth College World Series and first since 2015, the same year they won the ACC’s first National Championship since 1955.
- All five College World Series trips (2009, 2011, 2014, 2015, 2021) have come under head coach Brian O’Connor.
- The Cavaliers are the first team since 2008 to drop the first game of the regional and super regional round and advance to the College World Series.
- To get to Omaha, Virginia went 6-0 in elimination games, that includes four-straight wins to capture the Columbia regional title.
- Brian O’Connor is seeking his 750th career win. His .702 winning percentage is the second highest of all active D-I NCAA coaches.
- Sunday will mark the first ever meeting between Tennessee and Virginia. The Cavaliers are 15-15 against SEC schools in the O’Connor era (2004-present).
UVA IN THE COLLEGE WORLD SERIES
- Virginia is 12-8 in four previous College World Series appearances.
- Virginia is the only three-seed remaining and the lowest seed to reach the College World Series in 2021. Five of the seven teams were a No. 1 seed in their respective regionals.
- The last team seeded third in its regional to win the National Championship was Virginia in 2015.
- Of the seven other CWS teams, Virginia has only previously played Vanderbilt and Mississippi State in NCAA Tournament action.
College World Series Appearances since 2009
- Florida – 7
- Virginia, Vanderbilt, Texas – 5
Road to Omaha – Big Time Performances
- June 5 vs. Jacksonville – UVA postseason record, 21 hits – Zack Gelof/Kyle Teel had four hits each, tying UVA postseason record
- June 6 at South Carolina – Matt Wyatt – 5.0 IP, 0 R, 8 SO – Career-high in IP and strikeouts, first start since March 24 vs. Liberty (allowed 4 runs in 0.2 IP)
- June 7 vs. Old Dominion – Brandon Neeck 5.2 IP, 16 strikeouts (UVA postseason record). Had 19 career innings pitched and had never pitched more than 2.1 innings in a game prior to the outing. Neeck and Griff McGarry combined for 24 strikeouts, the third most in a nine-inning game in NCAA history.
- June 8 vs. Old Dominion – Devin Ortiz – 4.0 IP, 0 R, 6 SO (all career-highs). Ortiz made his first career start on the mound and only his third pitching appearance of the 2021 season. He stayed in the game as a designated hitter and hit a walk-off home run in the 10th, the first walk-off homer in UVA postseason history and the first of any kind by a UVA hitter since 2013.
- June 13 vs. DBU – Griff McGarry – 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 10 SO – McGarry carried a no-hitter into the 7th inning and came into the game 0-5 with a 7.53 ERA. The quality start was the first by a UVA pitcher in the 2021 postseason.
- June 14 vs. DBU – Kyle Teel’s grand slam in the bottom of the seventh was the first in UVA postseason history and erased a 2-1 deficit. Matt Wyatt surpassed a career-high set earlier in the tournament with 5.2 innings of relief and matched a career-best with eight strikeouts.
- Virginia is 13-7 in one run games this year and is 2-2 in the NCAA Tournament in one-run affairs. The Columbia regional loss to South Carolina snapped an eight-game win streak in one-run games.
- The Cavaliers have 14 come-from-behind wins in 2021 and have trailed in three of its six NCAA Tournament wins, including the deciding game of the Super Regional last Monday.
- Virginia has homered in 13-straight games and has 21 total homers in that span. Virginia hit 20 home runs in its first 39 games of the year.
THE HEAD COACH
- Of the eight schools remaining in the NCAA Tournament, only Brian O’Connor and Vanderbilt’s Tim Corbin have National Championships to their credit.
- O’Connor is 54-34 all-time in the NCAA Tournament. The 54 wins are the fifth most ever among ACC coaches. His .614 winning percentage in the NCAA Tournament is the fourth highest of any ACC coach ever.
- O’Connor is one of five coaches ever to reach the NCAA Tournament in each of his first 14 years at the helm.
- In the history of college baseball O’Connor is one of two coaches win a national championship (Virginia – 2015), play on a college world series team (Creighton – 1991) and be an assistant coach on a college world series team (Notre Dame – 2002)
ON THE MOUND
- The Cavaliers are 9-7 in the 16 games which Andrew Abbott has started this season. Four of the seven losses have been one-run games, another was a 2-0 loss at Florida State. In his two NCAA starts, Virginia fell to South Carolina 4-3 and DBU, 6-5.
- Abbott is the ninth semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award in program history, the fourth-most of any college baseball program. UVA has been represented in eight different years, tied for the third-most in the NCAA. He has also garnered All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, NCBWA, Baseball America and the ABCA.
- Abbott had his 31-inning scoreless streak snapped in the regional opening game against South Carolina thanks to a Wes Clarke first inning, opposite field home run. The lefthander pitched 5.2 innings and left with the game tied with the go-ahead runner on second base. After the home run Abbott retired 13 out of the next 14 batters including 10-straight after the Clark long ball.
- Abbott enters the weekend with 152 strikeouts, the third most in the country. The 152 Ks are the second most in a single season in UVA history, 13 behind Danny Hultzen’s 165 in 2011.
- Abbott has the second lowest ERA (3.02) in the ACC among qualified pitchers and is tops in the league in strikeouts this season. He ranks second in wins (8) and second in innings pitched 100.2. He’s the first Cavalier pitcher to eclipse the 100 innings mark since Connor Jones pitched 103.2 in 2016.
- Reliever Blake Bales was one of 10 finalists for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award. He’s one of three Virginia players ever to be a finalist for the award and the first since Branden Kline in 2011. Both Kline and Kevin Arico, a 2009 finalist, are in UVA’s Baseball Hall of Fame.
- Closer Stephen Schoch moved into a tie for ninth place all-time on Virginia’s career saves list after closing out South Carolina in an elimination game. He tossed 2.1 shutout innings and struck out five for his eighth save of the year. It marked the fifth time that he registered a save pitching more than one inning.
- Freshman Kyle Teel comes into the CWS riding a 23-game reached base streak the longest by a Cavalier this season and longest since Zack Gelof started off his career reaching in 28-straight games in 2019.
- Zack Gelof and his brother Jake each homered in the regional opener against South Carolina. It marked the second time in a three-game span the duo homered in the same game. Jake Gelof went on to hit two home runs in the regional including a 415-foot blast against Jacksonville.
- Jake Gelof has hit all four of his home runs this season in the last 12 games.
- Alex Tappen had his 15-game hitting streak snapped in the super regional finale against DBU. It marked the longest streak by a Cavalier this season. He kept the streak alive despite not starting in five of the 15 games. He did draw a walk in the contest and he has reached base in 17-straight games.
- All six of Tappen’s home runs this season have come in the last 12 games, including three in the NCAA Tournament and two in the ACC Tournament.
- Virginia eliminated Jacksonville, host South Carolina and top-seeded Old Dominion to win the Columbia regional.
- The Cavaliers did not get a quality start from any of its five starting pitchers on the weekend. Virginia’s starting pitchers for the final three games of the regional combined for six starts in 2021 including the first career start for Devin Ortiz in the regional championship game on Tuesday. Those three pitchers – Griff McGarry, Matt Wyatt and Devin Ortiz – combined for 12.1 innings, three runs allowed and 22 strikeouts.
- Top-seeded Old Dominion came into the NCAA regional ranked No. 1 in the country in home runs and hit long balls in two games, both occurring in the sixth inning of Sunday’s matchup. Virginia pitching fanned 39 ODU batters in 19 innings.
- The walk-off home run by Devin Ortiz in the regional final came after four shutout innings on the mound. It was the first walk-off home run in UVA postseason history and the first walk-off homer for Virginia since 2013.
- Virginia set a school record with 24 strikeouts against Old Dominion in the nightcap on Sunday to force a decisive seventh game. The 24-strikeout performance was only the third time in NCAA baseball history a team has struck out 24 or more in a nine-inning game. The last time a team struck out 24 or more batters was back in 1992 when Auburn struck out 25 against Arkansas. The only other occurrence was in 1971 when Miami (OH) totaled 26 against Wright State, an NCAA nine-inning record.