O'Connor

Virginia baseball coach Brian O’Connor hopes to lead the Cavaliers back to the NCAA Tournament this season after a two-year absence.

The Virginia baseball team was picked to finish fifth in the seven-team ACC Coastal Division this season by the league’s 14 head coaches, the league announced Thursday.

Miami, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Duke were picked to finish first through fourth in the Coastal, respectively.

Virginia Tech was picked to finish sixth, and Pittsburgh earned the last-place spot.

There’s a 31-point voting difference between UVa and Virginia Tech, but only a 13-point difference between North Carolina and UVa. Miami is the clear-cut Coastal favorite, but the difference between teams 2-5 is minimal.

Louisville, a member of the Atlantic Division, earned the nod as the overall ACC favorite.

Most major baseball publications have the Cardinals as a top-2 team nationally, while Miami is widely considered a top-10 team.

The Cavaliers enter the 2020 season on a two-year streak of missing the NCAA Tournament after making the tournament in each of the prior 14 seasons.

While the ACC preseason poll doesn’t show the Cavaliers much love, they return plenty of talent to play above their preseason expectations.

Pitching caused issues last season, but players such as Chesdin Harrington and Devin Ortiz are among a talented group of returners.

Offensively, sophomores Nic Kent and Zack Gelof are both expected to make major contributions for a lineup with young talent at most position groups.

UVa begins its 2020 season on Feb. 14 when it plays Oklahoma in the Wahoos Classic in Pensacola, Florida.

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