With the sweep last weekend the Hoos jumped in the national rankings and are ranked as high as #5 entering this weekend. Unfortunately, like last weekend, the boys play another top 10 team. This week will be even harder than last weekend as they will face the #4 Florida State Seminoles.
Before I get into the Seminoles preview I wanted to touch on how special Friday's game looks to be. Not only will it pit the #4 and the #5 team in the nation but it will also feature two of the top starting pitchers in college baseball. Obviously you all know about UVa's Golden Spikes candidate in Danny Hultzen who has a ridiculous .66 ERA and a 3-0 record to go with his 50-4 strikeout to walk ratio. Florida State has an impressive junior pitcher of their own. Sean Gilmartin is putting together quite an impressive campaign. He will enter tonight with a 1.24 ERA and a 4-0 record. Gilmartin played for Team USA this summer and was considered the best pitcher in the class 2 years ago when he entered as a freshman. He struggled a bit last year only going 9-8 but it appears he has regained his confidence this year and is back to dominating. Fortunately for UVa fans, the Hoos are 2-0 against Gilmartin and neither of his starts the past 2 years against the Cavs have been very impressive. The Friday tilt looks to be a special game.
The rest of FSU's pitching staff is not too shabby either. While Gilmartin is clearly their anchor, Scott Stitz and Brian Busch both enter the weekend undefeated although with not nearly as impressive ERA's as UVa's counters: Tyler Wilson and Cody Winiarski. The best part of the 'Noles bullpen is hands down their closer, Senior Mike McGee. After being shoved into the closer's role last year (after the UVa series), McGee thrived and became and All-American. His stats show he has struggled a bit this year with a fairly high ERA and only 3 SVs so far but I would never expect him to blow an opportunity to close out a game against an opponent.
On the offensive side, Florida State entered the year similar to the way UVa did. FSU had to replace two impressive starters in Stephen Cardullo and All-American Tyler Holt. Luckily for the 'Noles, Mike McGee did not sign after being drafted and has come back to be the anchor in the outfield. While McGee is impressive on the mound he is just as special at the plate. He's batted .400 so far this year with 3 HRs and 19 RBIs. FSU even has 4 other starters in their lineup batting over .300 and none of them will be easy outs either. The only weakness I see in FSU's batters is that they are prone to strike out. While not terrible, they have 105 K's coming into the weekend compared the UVa's 81 on the season.
After last weekend I don't doubt this team is capable of the same things the last two year's teams have accomplished. The have one of the most impressive pitching staff and bullpens in the nation and always seem to come up with the timely hits when necessary. We have a proven track record the last two years against this 'Noles club and I believe Mike Martin (FSU's HC) has recognized UVa as the future of the ACC. If the team can pitch like they have the last 4 weekends I can't see the Hoos losing this series. The boys will certainly be pumped to see a regional-esque crowd on hand for at least the Friday night game. My outlook: UVa wins on friday after another stellar performance from Hultzen and get another one of the two remaining games to win the series. As always, I will be providing updates on Twitter from @STLUVABaseball and GO HOOS.
Oh yea, lax has an important game this weekend too.....whatever.