Home UVa.’s Nathan Kirby, Brian O’Connor honored by ACC

UVa.’s Nathan Kirby, Brian O’Connor honored by ACC

uva-logo-new2Highlighted by ACC Co-Pitcher of the Year Nathan Kirby (So., Midlothian, Va.), a league-high eight members of the Virginia baseball team were named to the 2014 All-ACC Team, announced Monday by the conference office. In addition, Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor was tabbed the ACC Coach of the Year for the fifth time while earning the distinction for the fourth time in the last five years.

A league-high five Cavaliers were named to the All-ACC First Team: Kirby, Branden Cogswell (Jr., Ballston Lake, N.Y.), Nick Howard (Jr., Olney, Md.), Joe McCarthy (So., Scranton, Pa.) and Mike Papi (Jr., Tunkhannock, Pa.). Nate Irving (Jr., Yonkers, N.Y.), Daniel Pinero (Fr., Toronto, Ontario) and Brandon Waddell (So., Houston, Texas) were named to the All-ACC Third Team.

Kirby shared ACC Pitcher of the Year honors with Miami’s Chris Diaz and is the second UVa pitcher to earn the award. danny hultzen was voted the league’s pitcher of the year in 2010 and 2011.

Kirby is 8-1 with an ACC-low 1.58 earned run average in 85 1/3 innings this season. He ranks second in the league in opponent batting (.180), third in wins (8) and fifth in strikeouts (91). Kirby has recorded a quality start (six innings pitched, three runs or fewer allowed) in 12 of his 13 starts this year. On April 4, he fired a no-hitter at Pittsburgh while striking out 18 batters, which was one off the school and ACC records. Kirby also was recently named to the 2014 U.S. Collegiate National Team.

Since the ACC Coach of the Year award was debuted in 1981, only Florida State’s Mike Martin has won the honor more than O’Connor; Martin has earned the distinction seven times. Under O’Connor’s tutelage, Virginia has recorded a 43-11 record while standing atop the national polls for nine weeks this season. O’Connor recorded his 500th career coaching win at Virginia on May 9 in the Cavaliers’ victory over Georgia Tech, becoming the second fastest to reach 500 wins in ACC history.

Cogswell, who earned first-team honors at second base, is batting .291 on the year and is second on the team with 57 hits. A Second-Team All-ACC honoree at shortstop in 2013, Cogswell has played in all 54 games this season while making 53 starts. He has been steady in the field, committing just two errors.

Howard earned first-team honors at utility for the second straight year. He has been dominant in his first year as Virginia’s closer, recording 17 saves, which is one off the school record and two shy of the ACC record, set by North Carolina’s Michael Morin in 2012. Howard also has batted in 41 games and owns a .250 batting average and 19 RBI.

McCarthy earned All-ACC honors for the second straight year; he was a second-team selection last year. The 2013 ACC Freshman of the Year, McCarthy hit a team-leading .308 in the regular season. In 54 games, he recorded team highs in hits (61), doubles (14) and stolen bases while driving in 41 runs and scoring 42 in 54 games.

Papi earned first-team honors for the second consecutive season; he was tabbed at first base this year after claiming the distinction last year at outfield. Batting .299 this season, Papi leads the ACC in home runs this season with 10. He also leads the ACC in walks (50) and is tied for the conference lead in RBI (47). He ranks third in the ACC on-base percentage (.455), fifth in runs (45) and seventh in slugging (.505).

Irving has played in 43 games, with 38 starts. He is batting .269 with 15 RBI and helps manage the Cavaliers’ pitching staff, which ranks sixth nationally and tops in the ACC with a 2.24 team earned run average.

Pinero has had a fine freshman campaign, recording a .268 batting average with 17 RBI. He has been sensational in the field, committing just six errors at shortstop. Pinero was one of five true freshmen to earn a spot on the All-ACC team.

Waddell has posted a strong sophomore season, going 7-3 with a 2.90 ERA in 13 starts. In 80 2/3 innings, he has allowed 67 hits and just 12 walks while striking out 52. He has pitched at least six innings in 10 of his 13 starts. His numbers are even better in ACC play, where he boasts a 2.37 ERA.

Virginia begins postseason play on Thursday (May 22) when it competes in the 2014 ACC Baseball Championship at NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro, North Carolina. The No. 3 seed in the field, Virginia (43-11, 22-8 ACC) will play No. 6 seed Maryland at 11 a.m. Thursday.



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