June 12, 2015 [LINK / comment]

Virginia goes back to Omaha!

Their regular season performance did not live up to expectations, but the University of Virginia Cavaliers somehow found a way to get into the NCAA regional baseball tournament, and have now qualified for the College World Series which is about to get underway in beautiful downtown Omaha, Nebraska. To get there, Virginia had to win the regional round in California, and then beat Maryland in the super-regional three-game series which was held at Davenport Field in Charlottesville. Virginia won Game One of that series with a big late-inning comeback, and then did likewise in Game Two, capped with a thrilling two-run walkoff RBI single. You can watch a video clip of that game at vasp.tv.

Virginia came within a hair's breadth of winning the championship game last year, when Vanderbilt prevailed. Will those two teams face each other again in the final round? This year's eight contending teams are, listed sequentially by the first-round pairings on Saturday and Sunday:

After 12 to 14 games in the double-elimination tournament, the championship series (best of three) will be played on Monday, June 22 and the next two or three days.

TD Ameritrade Park ext. NW

The northwest entrance to TD Ameritrade Park, behind home plate. Taken July 25, 2014, one month after Virginia finished a very close second place in the College World Series.

"The Road to Omaha," seen in the photo above, was sculpted in 1999 by Omaha artist John Lajba. It originally stood outside Rosenblatt Stadium, which had hosted the College World Series for many years, until 2010. The statue was relocated to TD Ameritrade Park in 2011. cwsomaha.com. UVa baseball coach Brian O'Cconnor was the model for one of the faces in that statue, as he grew up in Council Bluffs, Iowa, across the Missouri River from Omaha. See ncaa.com and washingtonpost.com. I distinctly recall hearing that former Nationals manager Jim Riggleman was another one of the faces in that statue, but couldn't confirm that from the sources I checked.

As for dimensions at TD Ameritrade Park, it's 335 feet to the corners, 375 feet to the power alleys, and 408 feet to center field. It's not symmetrical, however, as the straight in right field and curved in left field -- rather like Turner Field in Atlanta. I'll try to come up with a preliminary diagram while the College World Series is still going on...