One of the hallmarks of the Brian O’Connor era of Virginia baseball has been a consistent track record of hosting a regional. Controversial as it may be, the Cavaliers will not be at home the first weekend of June this season for just the second time since 2009, as they will head to Fort Worth and play No. 6 national seed TCU.
In the last 13 seasons, the Hoos have generally performed well in the regional rounds. They’ve gotten to a super regional six of those years, and lost in the regional final two other times - both at home, in 2004 to Vanderbilt and 2007 to eventual national champion Oregon State. But what’s happened when they were sent away from Charlottesville for the first couple of rounds?
2005 was one the worst tourney performances with Coach O’Connor at the helm. The Cavaliers were sent to Corvallis as the No. 2 seed, where they fell to No. 3 St. John’s and No. 4 Ohio State and failed to make it out of the first round.
2008 wasn’t a whole lot better, as the third-seeded Cavaliers were sent out west to Fullerton. They would lose an opening round nail-biter to UCLA before staving off elimination with a victory over Rider to advance to the second round. Sunday’s elimination game would be another close contest, but the Hoos would come up short against host and eventual regional champion, Cal State Fullerton.
The next year was a little better. After winning the ACC Tournament, many thought UVa would host a regional the following week. Instead, the NCAA Selection committee sent the Hoos out west again, this time as the No. 2 seed in the UC Irvine regional, nicknamed the “Regional of Death” by many pundits. Going up against none other than Stephen Strasburg and San Diego State in the first round, the Hoos dispatched the Aztecs and went on to beat host UC Irvine twice to advance to the first super regional in program history. Against Ole Miss, the Cavaliers beat the Rebels in Oxford to advance to the program’s first College World Series.
The only other time since then that UVa played a regional on the road was 2015. Long story short, they were sent to Lake Elsinore, California. Some good things happened...
...then some really good things happened...
...and then this happened.
So, while TCU is a very good team that UVa shouldn’t be playing as early as potentially the second round, getting sent outside the friendly confines of Davenport Field for the regional isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The Cavaliers’ first game is against Dallas Baptist on Friday at 4 p.m. and will be televised on ESPNU.