Home UVA baseball coach Brian O’Connor on his closer: ‘I’ve got full confidence in Jay Woolfolk’

UVA baseball coach Brian O’Connor on his closer: ‘I’ve got full confidence in Jay Woolfolk’

Chris Graham
jay woolfolk
Photo: UVA Athletics

There’s not a lot that’s not going well for Virginia Baseball, which has won five of six in June, and is 15-2 since May 1, but if you’d point to one thing, it would be the closer, Jay Woolfolk.

Woolfolk has thrown a grand total of 11 pitches in the 2023 postseason, given up three hits to the four batters he’s faced, and was tagged with UVA’s only loss in the past two weekends, after being charged with the two runs that came across in the eighth inning of the 5-4 loss to Duke in Game 1 of the Super Regionals.

Woolfolk, a 6’0”, 200-pound sophomore righthander who is pegged by scouts as a likely second- or third-round pick looking ahead to the 2024 MLB Draft, has given up at least one earned run in three of his last four appearances.

The one that he didn’t get charged with a run in was his one-pitch outing against ECU in the second game of the Charlottesville Regional on June 4, in which he gave up a line-drive single to Jacob Starling and got the quick hook.

As Virginia was closing out the 12-2 win in Game 3 on Sunday, the sentiment among the fans in the crowd in Section 104 where I was sitting was that Brian O’Connor would get Woolfolk an inning at the end to help him build some confidence back on the team’s way out to Omaha.

O’Connor, instead, stayed with starter Brian Edgington, who closed out the complete game with a 1-2-3 ninth, which made for a nice story with regard to Edgington, but left the Woolfolk question to linger through the weekend.

O’Connor, for his part, told reporters on Tuesday that he is “not concerned about Jay Woolfolk at all” as the program gets ready for the College World Series.

The issue with Woolfolk of late is “not a physical thing,” O’Connor said. “You know, he’s working on some things. I think he’s really, really close.”

A reporter asked Oak if Woolfolk may be feeling the effects of a busy past few months, referencing his usage in the 2023 baseball season – 27 relief appearances, 32.2 innings – and his duties with the Virginia Football program.

Woolfolk was an active participant in several spring football practices with an eye toward competing for the starting quarterback job when training camp begins next month.

O’Connor shrugged off the notion that Woolfolk has been overbooked.

“The reality is for us to have success in Omaha, Jay Woolfolk is going to need to deliver for us, and he will. I’ve got complete confidence in him,” O’Connor said. “Sometimes guys go through, whether it’s hitting or pitching, you know, a tweak here or there that has to happen mechanically, or it might be what they’re thinking about in the batter’s box or on the pitching mound. I’ve got full confidence in Jay Woolfolk, and he’ll be out there in the right situation, and we need him.”

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham 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].