UVA coaches watch with pride as former 'Hoos reach World Series

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Brian O'Connor and Kevin McMullan have been coaching together at Virginia since O'Connor was named the school's head baseball coach before the 2004 season.

One of their first All-Americans at UVA was infielder Ryan Zimmerman. Their first recruiting class included two-way player Sean Doolittle. On Tuesday night, as those two players celebrated the first National League pennant in Washington Nationals history, their former college coaches were cheering from home.

"It's prideful when you see them go about their business the right way," McMullan said on Wednesday. "And it's a joy to watch them compete, knowing that you had them at the infancy stages of their professional career."

Zimmerman was the first draft pick in Nationals history after the franchise moved from Montreal, selected No. 4 overall in 2005. Two years later, Doolittle was picked at No. 41 overall by the Oakland Athletics -- the franchise that traded the left-handed reliever to DC at the 2017 trade deadline.

"You always reflect back to their time here at UVA, and what they meant to our program. They were at the early stages of what we've built here," McMullan said. "And they still respect it, they love it, and it's vice versa. We're proud that we could see their success."

"Those two guys have been doing this for a long, long time," said O'Connor. "And not only their performance on the field, but off the field the impacts that they have made in their community -- not only at home but also in DC and nationally -- is really, really impressive, and speaks to the character that they have, and what they represent."

Doolittle was drafted as a hitter, but moved to the mound in 2011 after knee injuries nearly derailed his career. Zimmerman was a Gold Glove winner at third base before his own injury issues eventually forced a full-time move to first base in 2015.

Both players are two-time MLB all-stars. In 2018, both were members of the inaugural class of the UVA Baseball Hall of Fame. Next Tuesday, when the Nationals open up against either the Yankees or Astros, they'll become the eighth and ninth former Wahoos to play in the World Series.

"Those two guys didn't have an opportunity to in a College World Series here. And the fact that they're going to have the honor to be able to play in the World Series at the highest level is really, really cool. And you see how hard somebody works throughout their career, and to be able to have the reward and the opportunity that they have in front of them is really special. And back here at Virginia, we're really proud of those guys."



 
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