The Cavaliers baseball team warms up inside Davenport Field on the campus of the University of Virginia. It’s the beginning of another tough three game series with ACC opponent north Carolina. Only the best ball players come here to play-and that includes 1st team All-American Mike Papi from Tunkhannock and freshman of the year in 2013 Joe McCarthy from Scranton.
“Why obviously there’s a reason you came here to play baseball. Games like that make it worth the while? I mean we come out, we have 5,000 fans behind us-the atmosphere is just amazing. Nothing like it, and on top of that the coaches here and my teammates I’m surrounded with this experience. Once in a lifetime and it’s great,” said Joe McCarthy.
“Talk about a kid from Tunkhannock coming down here and now being part of a team #1 in the country? I mean I’m extremely proud trying to represent Tunkhannock the best I can. I know they’re proud of me and I just work hard trying to make them happy,” said Mike Papi.
The third local player playing here for Virginia is Robert Bennie from Stroudsburg. Bennie doesn’t play as much as Mike and Joe, but at 6’2″ 210lbs- Coach O’Connor loves his bat and his glove in the outfield.
“I’ll tell you the state of Pennsylvania has always been very important to our program and we’ve had a lot of success with guys in Pennsylvania and really the Scranton area and it’s been really important to us. It seems like we just get tough kids up there that want to come here. It’s something we will continue-to continue to be an important area for us,” said Brian O’Connor.
The 2010 and ’11 Wyoming Valley Conference player of the year-Mike Papi helped lead the Tigers to the state championship game his senior season-now the WA-Hoo left-fielder leads with his stick-hitting around .300 and driving in runs from the #3 hole.
“I mean someone says you only get four at bats maybe yourself, but if you watch everyone else’s at bats you can learn just as much. I mean I haven’t played on a team with this much talent ever before. It’s a joy to come out here to work hard with these guys everyday,” again said Mike.
McCarthy a two-time district champion in baseball for the Knights was a three sport athlete in high-school. His calling though was to play on the diamond, and his play now is helping Virginia hopefully get some home games for the upcoming super-regional tournament.
“I mean last year we put ourselves in a pretty good opportunity super regional against Mississippi State. We just ran into a really hot ball-club at the time. We didn’t play up to our potential and unfortunately they beat us. This year is a new opportunity. We’re looking to out and play baseball in playoffs and hopefully make it there,” again said Joe.
The first #1 ranking and College World Series win in the programs history came in 2009. More good things are coming this season for this deep and talented team.
“All of our players are first class. When you talk about people like Mike Papi, Robert Bennie and Joe McCarthy they’re first class. They do very well in the classroom and they represent our baseball program really well off the field. Nothing would make me happier for our team those individuals to have the opportunity to play in the College World Series and play for a National Championship,” again said Brian.