Many hoped this season would be different.
After the worst season under Coach O’Connor last year where the Cavaliers failed to make the NCAA Tournament under his tenure, 2019 would return to the days of past.
After losing to Miami 10-3 on Thursday and ending the ACC Tournament 0-2, it looks like that might not be the case.
Though the staff held Miami to within striking distance through seven innings, only trailing 5-3 entering the 8th, the Hoos looked like they would never be able to get over the hump. Eerily similar to the game the next before when constant threats fell flat against North Carolina.
In the 8th, Miami erupted for five runs to extend the lead to 10-3 thanks to two Virginia errors and issuing three more walks.
The Hoos will now await their fate on Monday during the NCAA Tournament selection show. Their RPI has fallen to No. 48, and with the No. 28 strength of schedule, there is still an outside chance they could be selected as one of, if not the very last at-large teams to make the tournament. It’s still possible, but a 7-15 record against the RPI Top 50 make it unlikely.
It will be interesting to see where the program goes from here should they miss the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. It might feel lonely, but UVa isn’t alone. Both North Carolina and Miami, perennial powerhouses in college baseball, and coincidentally UVa’s two opponents in the ACC Tournament, have missed the NCAA Tournament in back to back years recently. North Carolina missed the tournament in 2015 and ‘16, while Miami will return to the postseason for the first time since 2016. South Carolina, winners of the College World Series in back to back years less than ten years ago, missed the postseason in 2017 and had their worst season this year in more than 20 years.
These swoons happen to the best programs, but what adjustments Coach O’Connor and staff make to the program will make all the difference.