June 26, 2015
One of the most respected coaches in college baseball, O’Connor led the Cavaliers to their first national baseball championship at the recent College World Series with a 4-2 win over Vanderbilt.
In the process, Virginia became the first Atlantic Coast Conference team in 50 years to win the College World Series.
It simply was one of the greatest coaching jobs in the history of college baseball. Virginia lost five position player starters off the 2014 ball club and seven key pitchers as a number of new players were brought in. The Cavaliers started the season well with 10 straight wins. But then due to injuries and inexperience, Virginia lost 5 of their next 6 and 8 of 11. They went through periods where they lost 4 in a row twice and 3 in a row three times.
OF Joe McCarthy underwent back surgery in January and didn’t play until mid-April. John La Prise suffered a hip injury four games into the season. C Robbie Coman injured his knee, catcher Matt Thaiss had an ankle injury. And No. 1 starter Nathan Kirby sprained a lat muscle in mid-April and wasn’t able to pitch again until the Cavaliers’ third game in Omaha – a stretch of two months. If that wasn’t enough, pitcher Derek Casey started 4-1 but suffered an elbow injury on Aril 21 and didn’t pitch since.
At one point, Virginia was only 10-14 in the ACC and in serious danger of not even qualifying for the ACC tournament entering May.
When they made the ACC Tournament, they suffered through a 1-3 record. Overall in ACC play, Virginia was 15-15 and had the seventh best record in the league.
The coaching staff never lost faith and kept hammering home the point that a late season run was possible. The Cavaliers were a No. 3 regional seed and were shipped out to California where they won three straight against Southern California, San Diego St. and Southern California again. Then at its Super Regional, Virginia swept Maryland two straight. At the College World Series, they won their bracket and won two of three over Vanderbilt for the national title as the team went 10-2 in NCAA tournament play.
The five-time ACC Coach of the Year, O’Connor continues to lead Virginia to unparalleled levels of success. Now in his 12th season as head coach of the Cavaliers, O’Connor has built his program into a college baseball powerhouse with a national championship this year and second place finish in 2014.
The numbers during O’Connor’s first 12 years are staggering:
- Four College World Series appearances
- 12 straight NCAA tournament appearances
- Seven NCAA regional championships
- Two ACC championships
- Four 50-win seasons
Virginia is one of just eight programs in the nation to earn a berth in the NCAA tournament in each of the last 12 seasons. This success has led to record crowds, excitement and national exposure for Virginia baseball.
O’Connor is the second fastest ACC coach to reach 500 career wins (558-201-2). His UVa teams have racked up ten 40-win seasons and played host to eight NCAA regionals and five NCAA super regionals.
UVa has ranked among the top 40 in the nation in total home attendance and average home attendance in all 12 years of O’Connor’s tenure. Virginia finished a multi-million dollar stadium renovation in the spring of 2010, pushing Davenport Field among the elite in college baseball facilities.
Twelve former Cavaliers have reached the major leagues after playing for O’Connor, highlighted by Washington Nationals’ all-star and Gold Glove third baseman Ryan Zimmerman. Mark Reynolds (Cleveland), Joe Koshansky (Colorado), Brandon Guyer (Tampa Bay), Michael Schwimer (Toronto), Mike Ballard (Baltimore), Sean Doolittle (Oakland), David Adams (New York Yankees), Phil Gosselin (Atlanta), Kyle Crockett (Cleveland), Chris Taylor (Seattle) and Jarrett Parker (San Francisco) also have made it to baseball’s highest level after playing under O’Connor while at UVa.
During O’Connor’s tenure, Virginia players have garnered 18 All-America honors.
O’Connor brought a wealth of baseball experience to Charlottesville when he arrived. He came to Virginia after spending nine seasons at Notre Dame (1995-2003) under current LSU coach Paul Mainieri, for whom he served as an assistant coach from 1995-2001 before earning a promotion to associate head coach in 2001.
While at Notre Dame, O’Connor worked with the Fighting Irish pitchers and served as the program’s recruiting coordinator. As Notre Dame’s recruiting coordinator, he led the effort that landed a nine-member group ranked as the No. 1 recruiting class in the country in 2001, as well as the sixth-ranked recruiting class in 2003.
During O’Connor’s nine years at Notre Dame, the Irish compiled an overall record of 399-160-1 (.713), won six conference championships and made six trips to the NCAA Tournament.
O’Connor, who pitched on Creighton’s 1991 College World Series team, tutored 17 eventual professional baseball pitchers, including 13 Major League Draft selections, at Notre Dame.
Previous Collegiate Baseball National Coaches of The Year include:
- 2014: Tim Corbin, Vanderbilt
- 2013: John Savage, UCLA
- 2012: Andy Lopez, Arizona
- 2011: Ray Tanner, South Carolina
- 2010: Ray Tanner, South Carolina
- 2009: Paul Mainieri, Louisiana St.
- 2008: Mike Batesole, Fresno St.
- 2007: Pat Casey, Oregon St.
- 2006: Pat Casey, Oregon St.
- 2005: Augie Garrido, Texas
- 2004: George Horton, Cal. St. Fullerton
- 2003: Wayne Graham, Rice
- 2002: Augie Garrido, Texas
- 2001: Jim Morris, Miami (Fla.)
- 2000: Skip Bertman, Louisiana St.
- 1999: Jim Morris, Miami (Fla.)
- 1998: Mike Gillespie, Southern Calif.; Mike Batesole, Cal. St. Northridge
- 1997: Skip Bertman, Louisiana St.
- 1996: Skip Bertman, Louisiana St.; Andy Lopez, Florida
- 1995: Augie Garrido, Cal. St. Fullerton
- 1994: Larry Cochell, Oklahoma
- 1993: Skip Bertman, Louisiana St.
- 1992: Andy Lopez, Pepperdine
- 1991: Skip Bertman, Louisiana St.
- 1990: Steve Webber, Georgia
- 1989: Dave Snow, Long Beach St.
- 1988: Larry Cochell, Cal. St. Fullerton
- 1987: Mark Marquess, Stanford
- 1986: Jerry Kindall, Arizona
- 1985: Ron Fraser, Miami (Fla.)
- 1984: Augie Garrido, Cal. St. Fullerton
- 1983: Cliff Gustafson, Texas
- 1982: Ron Fraser, Miami (Fla.)
- 1981: Jim Brock, Arizona St.
- 1980: Jerry Kindall, Arizona