Cavs' offense explodes in rout of Devils - The Daily Progress: Sports

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Cavs' offense explodes in rout of Devils

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Posted: Saturday, May 11, 2013 11:15 pm | Updated: 11:09 am, Sun May 12, 2013.

When it was all over, when all the pings stopped echoing off the Blue Ridge Mountains, Brian O’Connor went ahead and tried one of his least favorite hobbies.

His Virginia Cavaliers had just posted a football number in a baseball game and the timing only felt right.

The UVa coach talked about his offense from a historic perspective on Saturday after a 17-8 rout of Duke.

“I hate to compare them, but I know that you probably have to because you get asked that question all the time,” O’Connor said to a pair of reporters. “This is as good, certainly, as any of the better lineups that we’ve had. I would say it’s certainly right up there with those 2010, 2011 lineups, which a lot of people felt were our best lineups here.”

The No. 7 Cavaliers (41-8, 19-7 ACC) turned Davenport Field into a merry-go-round against the Blue Devils (25-25, 9-17).

Hits after runs after hits after runs.

All in all, they put together 22 knocks, the most by any team in an ACC game this season. Wahoo fans hadn’t seen that many hits since the 2010 Cavs rocked Maryland for 28 hits in a 27-4 win.

Cue the comparisons.

In 2010, Virginia collectively batted .331. A year later, it was .304.

Following Saturday’s display of easy BP, the 2013 ‘Hoos are up to .312.

“In those lineups we had speed in a lot of spots of the lineup,” O’Connor said. “We had a lot of guys that could hit the ball out of the ballpark. But I think the quality that this team has from an offensive standpoint, I think there’s a real toughness, a fight to not give in or give anything away.”

Or take a step back when key players go down.

Prior to this weekend, UVa had played a combined eight games without Joe McCarthy, an ACC Freshman of the Year candidate, or Derek Fisher, a preseason All-American, because of injury.

Last Saturday, Branden Cogswell, the team’s hits leader and a Wallace Award candidate, broke the middle finger on his throwing hand during practice, sidelining the shortstop/leadoff man for at least two weeks.

How has Virginia fared without him?

Try 23 runs on 32 hits and two wins.

“I think it just shows the quality of our lineup one-through-nine,” said third baseman Kenny Towns, who went 3 for 4 with an RBI on Saturday. “If one guy’s not producing, we’re going to have six or seven other guys to back him up and do the job for him.

“We just have a lot of quality hitters that get the job done.”

Cogswell’s defensive presence has been filled by Nick Howard, who was shifted from third base. The sophomore’s leadoff spot has been handed to Mike Papi, the normal five-hole hitter.

All Papi did Saturday was go 4 for 4, collect four RBI, score three runs, finish a home run shy of the cycle and up his batting average to .400.

“What I told Mike, even though he’s leading off for us, I don’t want him to try to be a leadoff hitter,” O’Connor said. “I just want him to go up there and hit. I don’t want his approach to change at all because he’s at a different spot in the lineup.

“It worked out well for us today.”

And there’s confidence that it’ll continue for the immediate future.

“I’m not changing anything,” said Papi, who last batted leadoff as a freshman in high school. “Just see it and hit it.”

Of course, that could be the motto for this entire squad.

Five different Cavaliers (Papi, Towns, McCarthy, Brandon Downes, Reed Gragnani) had at least three hits on Saturday. UVa scored runs in all but two innings and followed a five-spot in the third with an eight-run outburst in the fourth.

“That’s what they always say — hitting’s contagious,” Towns said. “In this case, it was. Everyone was getting quality swings, putting line-drives on it. People were just getting good pitches to hit and just barreling them up.

“It was fun to watch.”

And maybe even fun to compare.

Virginia will go for the Duke sweep at 1 p.m., today. Howard will pitch. Freshman John LaPrise will be the shortstop.

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