Once again: UVA’s Josh Sborz come up big

college world seriesUVA pitching coach Karl Kuhn had a simple message for starting pitcher Josh Sborz.

“What he really told me was just like let him hit your stuff, basically, and just stop trying to miss the bats. Right after that it kind of just fell right into place,” said Sborz, who was in the midst of a bases-loaded third-inning jam when Kuhn came calling, with Ole Miss already up 1-0, and threatening to send the Hoos to a deciding game on Sunday.

Sborz gutted his way out of the jam, and thereafter gutted his way through an interesting two-day, five-inning performance in a 4-1 win for Virginia that sent the team to its first-ever appearance in the College World Series Finals.

Sborz (6-4) improved to 2-0 in deciding postseason games in 2014. He also earned the win with seven scoreless innings in Virginia’s 11-2 victory over Maryland in Game 3 of the Super Regionals.

For Sborz, the back-to-back great efforts are a bit of redemption after the sophomore righty, who had been the #2 starter most of the season, lost his spot in the rotation before the final series of the regular season.

He only got it back when UVA coach Brian O’Connor decided to use Artie Lewicki, who replaced Sborz in the rotation, out of the bullpen to cover for the troubles of his middle relievers down the stretch in ACC play.

“The guy’s our number two starter all year long. The coach makes a decision to switch things up going into the final ACC regular season weekend, and Josh doesn’t start for three weeks, but he’s not in the coach’s office wondering what’s going on. He’s a total team guy. And when you carry yourself that way, I believe you get rewarded,” O’Connor said. “And he was rewarded in Game 3 in the Super Regional against Maryland. He couldn’t have pitched any better. And he deserved the opportunity that he had last night and today. And when you think the right way and you’re in it for the right reasons, it rewards you.”

This one was tougher than the Maryland win not only because the stakes were higher, but because of the unusual circumstances surrounding the game. A rain delay in the top of the second inning Friday night forced the game to be suspended until 2 p.m. Central Saturday, and Sborz, who threw only seven pitches in retiring Ole Miss in order, was brought back out after the lengthy delay.

He used his experience as the team’s setup man in 2013 to his advantage on Saturday.

“I took this like a reliever’s approach where you pitch a few pitches the first game and you’re going to go out the next day and throw some more. And I basically took it inning by inning and just throw as many pitches as I possibly could to save the bullpen,” Sborz said.

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