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Brian O’Connor has a lot of work to do to rebuild his UVA pitching staff

Chris Graham
uva baseball
Photo: UVA Baseball/YouTube

UVA Baseball coach Brian O’Connor, who is going to need some arms to flesh out his pitching staff for 2025, already has two committed from the transfer portal – Will Riley, a rising senior late of VMI, and rising sophomore Joey Colucci, from Maryland, by way of Harford Community College.

Don’t be alarmed with Riley’s ERA statline, which was a ghastly, at first glance, 6.78 in 2024.

I was the play-by-play guy on ESPN+ broadcasts for VMI baseball for nine years; the home park, Gray-Minor Stadium, is about as hitter-friendly as they come.

Riley’s fundamentals – 84 Ks/23 walks in 78.1 innings last season, 213 Ks/104 walks in 175 innings in his three-year career – tell you that he has good stuff.

To illustrate that point: his 10.95 Ks/9 is #1 all-time at VMI, surpassing Josh Winder, a seventh-round pick in the 2018 draft who has been with the Minnesota Twins the past couple of years, and is currently on a minor-league rehab assignment.

Winder has done all of that after pitching to a 5.40 ERA in his junior season, ahead of going pretty high in the draft, then pitching his way into the bigs.

The baseball people know.

Seriously, forget the ERA.

Next, to Colucci, a 6’5” righty.

Colucci pitched in six games for Maryland in 2023, then transferred to Harford Community College for the 2024 season, where he was 8-1 with a 1.86 ERA/0.92 WHIP, with 83 Ks and 18 walks in 63.0 innings.

Colucci also pitched in the Perfect Game Collegiate League in 2023, going 2-0 with a 4.60 ERA/0.96 WHIP, with 14 Ks and seven walks in 15.2 innings.

This is just the beginning for O’Connor, who has to replace Charlottesville Regional MOP Jay Woolfolk, #2 starter Joe Savino, #3 starter Owen Coady, one-time weekend starter Cullen McKay, lefty setup man Angelo Tonas, and righty setup man Chase Hungate from his 2024 pitching staff.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham, the king of "fringe media," is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].

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