By Jeff White

CHARLOTTESVILLE — From start to finish of UVa’s first game in the NCAA baseball tournament, more than 28 hours passed.

For Brian O’Connor’s club, the wait was worth it. The Cavaliers, seeded No. 1 among the four teams in the double-elimination regional at Davenport Field, are where they wanted to be after their NCAA opener: in the winners’ bracket.

In a game that was halted by bad weather in the first inning Friday morning and did not resume until Saturday afternoon, Virginia crushed No. 4 seed Army 9-1 before an appreciative crowd of 3,954.

“We have a lot of guys on our team that this is their first time in an NCAA regional,” O’Connor said, “and as much as you tell them that it’s another ball game, obviously there’s a lot at stake, and until they go through it and experience it, they’re not quite sure what they’re in for. And now that we’ve got the first one out of the way, I’m glad we won, and we’ll look forward to playing tomorrow.”

One of the Cavaliers making his NCAA tournament debut was freshman Branden Cogswell, their designed hitter against Army.

“It felt a little different, but you just gotta treat it like another game and not press too much,” Cogswell said. “Go out there and play relaxed and confident and have some fun.”

Virginia (39-17-1), which is trying to advance to an NCAA super regional for the fourth consecutive year, will face No. 3 seed Appalachian State (40-16) at 3 p.m. Sunday. The Mountaineers held off No. 2 seed Oklahoma 5-4 in the second game Saturday.

Sophomore right-hander Artie Lewicki will start for the Wahoos against the Mountaineers. In his past five starts, Lewicki is 3-0 with a 1.59 earned-run average, and batters have hit only .164 against him. For the season he’s 4-2 with a 3.33 ERA.

In UVa’s final game at the ACC tournament, Lewicki pitched seven shutout innings in a victory over top-seeded Florida State. So it doesn’t concern O’Connor that Lewicki didn’t pitch during last year’s NCAA tournament, when a staff that included Danny Hultzen, Tyler Wilson, Will Roberts and Cody Winiarski led the ‘Hoos to the College World Series.

“Artie hadn’t pitched in an ACC tournament [before] last weekend, and look what he did,” O’Connor said Saturday. “He will go out there and be aggressive and attack them. You’ve got to get your experience at some point, and tomorrow will be his day, and I’ve got so much confidence that he’ll go out there and give us a chance to win.”

Each team sent its No. 1 starter to the mound Friday — Branden Kline for UVa and Chris Rowley for Army — and the junior right-handers came back to pitch when the game resumed at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Kline was an All-America closer last season, so O’Connor wasn’t worried about the quick turnaround for his ace, who threw 20 pitches Friday.

“I just felt that it was important for us to have our guy out there for an opportunity to win the first game and go 1-0 in the regional,” O’Connor said. “I know how much pride he has and that he was going to go out there and throw strikes and give us the best chance to win.”

Kline did his part. “I just tried to treat it as kind of like a bullpen session, with what happened yesterday,” he said. “I just tried to use the positives from that and tried to go out today and attack Army’s lineup.”

Before giving way to sophomore left-hander Kyle Crockett with two outs in the sixth, Kline struck out five, scattered six hits and walked only one.

“I thought he did a nice job,” Army coach Joe Sottolano said. “He competed and threw strikes.”

Rowley, meanwhile, did not have one of his better games. He came in with an 11-0 record and a 1.97 ERA, and he had walked only 17 batters all season. Against UVa, he walked five in his six innings and also hit four batters.

“I think that mentally I just didn’t prepare myself like I should have,” Rowley said.

“The fact of the matter is, I let my teammates down a little bit … I threw, what, eight pitches yesterday? So there should be no carryover physically. I think mentally is where I lacked focus, and I take responsibility for that.”

Army, the Patriot League champion, fell to 41-14. The Black Knights will face Oklahoma (38-23) in an elimination game Sunday at 11 a.m.

“It’s like I said before: I believe that everyone respects what our guys stand for,” Sottolano said. “If they don’t, I think that they have some issues they have to work out themselves. But ultimately we wanted people to respect us as a baseball team, and winning 41 games, I don’t care where you are or who you’re playing, you have to be a pretty good ball club. We didn’t show that today, but tomorrow’s an opportunity.”

The game started to get away from Army in the second inning. After a stretch in which he gave up a double to Brandon Downes, hit Nate Irving with a pitch and then walked Chris Taylor, Rowley found himself pitching to Cogswell with the bases loaded and two outs.

When Rowley’s pitch hit Cogswell, who bats left-handed, UVa had its first run. Rowley then ran the count to 3-0 on redshirt sophomore Stephen Bruno, the Cavaliers’ most dangerous hitter.

“It’s a great hitting position to be in, 3-0 and bases loaded,” Bruno said later. “He’s got to throw a strike, and I was just trying to aggressively put the ball in play and score the runners.”

Bruno ripped a double to center field, and Irving and Taylor scored. Those were all the runs UVa would need on this picturesque spring afternoon.

“He had the green light,” O’Connor said. “Stephen’s an aggressive hitter. When you have a veteran like that up in that situation, you’re looking for them to rise up and drive in one run at least. He didn’t get cheated. He sat on a pitch in the zone and got it and put a great swing on it.”

O’Connor acknowledged that Bruno might have hit into a double play on that 3-0 pitch. But to “win and advance on in postseason play, you gotta take chances at times,” O’Connor said.

Bruno added a single in the fifth and an RBI double in the eighth. Downes, who started in center field, also had three hits for the Cavaliers. Cogswell effectively put the game out of the Black Knights’ reach in the sixth with a three-run double to right-center.

“Off the bat it felt good,” Cogswell said. “I didn’t really follow the ball. I just got on my horse, and I was thinking two [bases] right out of the box.”

O’Connor started four freshmen against Army — Cogswell, Downes, Irving and left-fielder Derek Fisher — and the Cavaliers’ coach called his first-year class “fearless.”

“We need contributions from everyone,” O’Connor said, “and those kids, they’re not freshmen anymore. They’ve been up in a lot of big, clutch situations and come through for this team, and we’re going to need them to continue to do that for us to continue to advance on.”

After NCAA officials ruled Friday that no games would be played in the Charlottesville Regional until Saturday, O’Connor summoned his players to Davenport for a team meeting.

“Delays, they’re not fun, but they’re part of our game,” O’Connor said. “We’ve experienced many of them this year and throughout the players’ time. It’s part of the game, and you gotta just keep yourself ready to play.”

That the ‘Hoos were ready to play Saturday soon became apparent, and Sottolano came away impressed.

“They’re a club that understands their strengths,” he said. “They understand what they have to do to win. They played the game well, took advantage of opportunities and put some balls in play when they needed to.

“I think they’re a well-coached ball club. They threw strikes. They don’t try to dazzle you or do anything crazy. They just try to play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”

Case in point: Virginia senior Keith Werman might be unsurpassed in college baseball when it comes to laying down sacrifice bunts and executing the game’s fundamentals.

“Everybody should have great respect for this guy,” O’Connor said. “He does it the right way.”

Werman had two more sacrifice bunts against Army, and he’s not the only Cavalier who’ll do what it takes to help the team win. Opposing pitchers have hit UVa batters 96 times this season.

During batting practice, O’Connor said Saturday during an entertaining press conference, UVa’s coaches will intentionally plunk batters from time to time. When they do so, they use a soft baseball, but the batter doesn’t know it’s soft when he sees the ball coming at him.

“You just continue to preach to them throughout the year in practice that they have to hold their ground at the plate, that you don’t jump out of the way,” O’Connor said. “You hold your ground at the plate and you get hit and you take your base … It’s a mentality.”