Cavalier Corner

December 2021

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28 CAVALIER CORNER DEVIN ORTIZ Graduate Student • Baseball Athletes are often remembered for their performance in the big moment. For Virginia baseball fans, there have been plenty of big moments in the tenure of head coach Brian O'Connor, most notably the 2015 national championship. There's the 2011 walk-off single by Chris Taylor to clinch a spot in Omaha and the 2015 Super Re- gional walk-off single by Ernie Clement that will forever live in the memories of Cavalier fans everywhere. Devin Ortiz had his iconic moment this past spring with the Cava- liers' backs against the wall in the NCAA Columbia Regional cham- pionship game. With the team's pitching depleted, the versatile Ortiz made his first career start on the mound and was brilliant in four shutout innings, striking out six batters. That could have been enough, but there was more. He stayed in the game as the team's designated hitter and found himself up to bat in a tie game with one out in the bottom of the 10th inning. Ortiz blasted a 1-1 pitch over the left field wall to send Virginia to the NCAA Super Regionals for the first time since 2015 and complete its fourth straight elimination game victory of the regional. After earning his undergraduate degree in philosophy from UVA this spring, Ortiz will return for a fifth season in 2022 while pursuing his master's degree in educational psychology. This fall, Ortiz sat out most of Virginia's workouts and scrimmages while rehabbing his sur- gically repaired non-throwing shoulder. Now a graduate student, he has used his time away from the field with an eye to the future. He's had a unique opportunity on the sidelines to help integrate 18 newcomers into the Virginia baseball program coming off its fifth College World Series appearance since 2009. Typically, the upper- classmen bear the responsibility of showing first-years and transfers the ropes, but in O'Connor's words Ortiz has been more of a player/ coach for the Cavaliers this fall. Ortiz has been occupying a front-row seat on how to develop the country's best college baseball players for four seasons now. "I obviously want to pursue my dream of playing professional base- ball," he said. "But whenever baseball ends, I can see myself coaching in college or providing instruction to future baseball players." — Scott Fitzgerald • Photo by Matt Riley/courtesy UVA Athletics EXCEPTIONAL UVA STUDENT-ATHLETES

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