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Virginia-Virginia Tech rivalry extends to baseball

The rivalry between Virginia and Virginia Tech has long been present in football and has recently gained fuel in basketball, but with two baseball teams in the top 25, there's a possibility that the two in-state schools could foster a strong baseball rivalry, too. The Hokies visit the Cavaliers this weekend in what should be among the marquee series in the ACC this weekend, which would have been unthinkable five years ago.

But the Cavaliers are an emerging college baseball power, fresh off a College World Series appearance in 2009 and, with two months to go before the 2010 College World Series, among the favorites to win the national championship. Virginia Tech features two likely first-round picks and have worked its way into the top half of the ACC.

"It is partly just another series, but the players are bright kids, it means a lot to them and they understand what's at stake," Coach Brian O'Connor said. "It is a very key series. Not only for league play, but it's your in-state rival. So, there's a lot more on it. Saying that, you can't put added pressure on yourself because you can't play this game that way. But they understand there's a lot at stake that they want to go out and prove it on the field."

Virginia actually finds itself recruiting head-to-head against North Carolina more than any other school, but there are still recruiting battles with Virginia Tech. Both teams have strong in-state talent on their rosters.

The Hokies took two of three games against the Cavaliers last season in Blacksburg. This weekend's series in Charlottesville is already sold out, and with both coaches having built up strong programs, it's likely a rivalry for years to come.

"I think it's great for our state," O'Connor said. "It brings a lot of attention, it shows the level of high school baseball we have in the state of Virginia for Virginia, Virginia Tech, VMI, Liberty's having a real good year, for a lot of teams to be successful, it draws attention to how good the baseball is here. Just like the success we've had over the last seven years has been good for all the programs in the state. It shows administrations for all the schools in the state of Virginia, you can have a very successful baseball program."

By Zach Berman  |  April 16, 2010; 11:52 AM ET
 | Tags: Brian O'Connor, Virginia baseball  
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