TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – It's easy to tell when Virginia turns the game over to junior righthanded closer Nick Howard.
There's a certain frenzy that overtakes the ballpark if the Cavaliers are at home, while the opposite is true on the road, where a rally can quickly turn into a worry. A few weeks ago against Florida State, Howard entered the series opener for the ninth inning and struck out all three batters he faced in dominant fashion.
Two days later, with the crucial ACC three-game series on the line, O'Connor and the Cavaliers, again, opted to go to Howard late in the game, this time with two outs in the eighth inning. Though FSU's crowd was abuzz before Howard entered the game, there was a feeling of “oh, not again” present at Dick Howser Stadium as he trotted to the mound and went through his warmup pitches.
As he has done so many times this season, Howard responded by closing out the series with 1 1/3 shutout innings pitched, along with four strikeouts and no walks.
That's just Nick Howard for you.
“We wouldn't be here where we are right now without Nick Howard doing what he does at the end of the game,” Virginia coach Brian O'Connor said. “He's a special closer with great stuff. He also has really good pitchability, so when his time is done here, he has a chance to do whatever he really wants.
“Nick just has really, really, special stuff.”
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