Virginia ace Connor Jones (Aaron Fitt)

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Buzzworthy: UVa’s Jones Bests Duke

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DURHAM, N.C. — Virginia’s Connor Jones and Duke’s Bailey Clark are both potential first-round picks this June. Clark has the more explosive fastball — but Jones has more polish and command of his entire repertoire, which is why he’s a slam-dunk first-rounder and a candidate to go in the top five to 10 overall picks. That difference in pitchability really stood out Friday, as Jones breezed through eight shutout innings to lead Virginia to a 6-0 win against Clark and the Blue Devils in what was billed as perhaps the nation’s marquee mound matchup this weekend.

Jones hasn’t always been a strike-throwing machine like he was Friday night. He walked 23 batters in 54.2 innings as a freshman, then walked 52 in 115.2 innings last year. But he has just six walks in 27.1 innings through four starts this year, after walking none in his eight innings Friday. He went to three-ball counts twice in his 18-pitch first inning, then not again until the seventh. In between, he settled into a very efficient groove, throwing just 40 pitches (28 strikes) over four innings from the second to the fifth.

“He had four walks in his last start, and I know he was frustrated by that,” UVa. coach Brian O’Connor said. “So he looked bound and determined tonight to go out and be aggressive, and force the action on them and ask them to put the ball in play.”


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