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UVA College World Series takeaway: ‘Hoos are where they want, need to be

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uva-baseballFlorida lit up Nathan Kirby and Johnny Allstaff for 10 runs in the Gators’ 10-5 victory over UVA on Friday in the College World Series. Here’s the takeaway for the ‘Hoos: fuhgeddaboutit.

Florida will try to spin this into momentum, but momentum isn’t a thing in baseball. Good pitching is a thing in baseball, and Virginia is set for Saturday’s do-or-die game.

Likely Brian O’Connor goes with Connor Jones, his #1 starter, though there was some thought from the ESPN ctew in the late innings Friday that you could maybe see Brandon Waddell, who put in seven scoreless in the Cavs’ 1-0 win over Florida on Monday.

Either way, and it’s probably Jones, but again, either way, O’Connor gets six or seven innings out of his starter, something he knew he wasn’t going to get out of Kirby, making his first appearance in nine weeks after going down on April 17 in a start against Miami.

Kirby was at best going to give you four innings, and seemed to be cruising in that direction when Florida hitters adjusted the second time through the order, sitting back and taking Kirby’s fastballs and changeups away the other way, not exactly tearing the cover off the ball, to say the least, but putting up a four-spot in the bottom of the third that put Virginia behind the eight-ball.

O’Connor was rolling the dice going to Kirby, but it was a safe roll of the dice, with Virginia not facing elimination on Friday. He still has Jones and Waddell, he has a fresh Josh Sborz who can go multiple innings on Saturday as necessary, and O’Connor still has one starter left for Game 1 of the CWS Championship Series, assuming that is still in the cards.

Still assuming a Championship Series is a possibility for UVA next week, O’Connor also has Kirby after what was essentially a rehab start available to go maybe in a Game 3.

You’ve got to get there, of course, but going Kirby Friday was the best way to get there. You go Jones on Friday and lose, then you need to throw Waddell out there on Saturday to get to next week, and you have nothing left to compete with either Vanderbilt or TCU when you get there.

The game plan made for an ugly Friday, with Kirby not getting out of the third, with Alec Bettinger taking one for the team in a five-run sixth, at the tail end of an innings-eating session for the righty.

Virginia is back to where it needs to be. You might think I’m crazy for suggesting that Friday wasn’t as bruising as it looked, but UVA’s fate is in the hands of Connor Jones and Josh Sborz on Saturday, and that formula has worked out well for the ‘Hoos thus far in the 2015 postseason.

So much for Florida’s momentum.

– Column by Chris Graham

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Have a guest column, letter to the editor, story idea or a news tip? Email editor Chris Graham at [email protected]. Subscribe to AFP podcasts on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPandora and YouTube.

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