This weekend the Cavaliers will host some fairly familiar opponents in their final out of conference weekend of the 2011 schedule in their annual Ivy League opponent with Cornell and the 2010 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Champion Rider. Hoos look to run their current 2 game winning streak to 6 games this weekend and I don't see why they won't. The Big Red will be kicking off their season in Charlottesville and are not expected to be too much of a threat this year in the Ivy League. Rider comes into the game with a 1-2 record after dropping their first series to East Tennessee State.
Coach O'Connor is a fan of getting two northern teams to come to the Dav at the beginning of the year for a four game series for each team. He has scheduled something similar every year for the last three years. Fortunately for the Cavalier fans, most northern teams are not strong in the baseball arena because they are too worried about how their basketball teams are doing and what kind of record their lacrosse team is going to have. The Hoos haven't dropped a game in this 3 team and 4 game series weekend in the last 3 years and I don't see them starting this year.
Cornell comes back to Charlottesville for the first time since the 2008 season. That weekend, the Cavaliers blew out the Big Red 12-2 and 12-3. This year, the Cornell will be somewhat of a mystery since they will have not played a single game this year. At the plate, the Big Red will be lead by all-utility man Mickey Brodsky (On a side note, you always know when you're a playing a team from north of Maryland when they have a player named Mickey; even though he's from CA. We used to love examining names on these other teams). Brodsky was 1st Team All-Ivy last year as the utility position. He batted a solid .384 with 13 doubles and two home runs. On the mound Cornell will turn to three seniors but will be lead by Corey Pappel. Pappel had a strong K/IP ratio last year and a respectable 3.71 ERA even though he only went 2-2.
If there were a middle ground between the expectations coming into the season for UVA and Cornell it would be Rider. Rider is not supposed to be a strong contender on the national scene but should be very competitive in the MAAC. Anyone remember the last time the Cavs played the Broncs? I'll give you a few minutes......ready? If you guessed in the 2008 NCAA Fullerton Regional then you are correct. UVa beat Rider to stay alive in the tournament. Last year, Rider won the MAAC again and was the lone representative in the NCAA tournament. This year, they are expected to compete with Marist to win the conference. Through three games, four players are batting .333 and lead by Steve Galella who has two runs and four RBIs including a HR. On the bump Mike Thomas and Tyler Smith are expected to lead the way. Thomas had an impressive opening weekend striking out 10 in 6 innings while only giving up 1 run on 2 hits. Smith on the other hand had a rough initial outing giving up 2 runs in 1.1 IP.
My prediction for the weekend: UVa goes 4-0. Shocked? No, I didn't think so. Whit Mayberry will start off the Hoos in the first half of the double header today followed up by #Hultzen4GoldenSpikes. Tyler Wilson and Cody Winiarski will start the two games Saturday. Rider could provide some competition but I do not expect the Cornell games to be too close. As always, I will be providing updates as I can on Twitter @STLUVABaseball and when referring to the best player in college baseball please use the #Hultzen4GoldenSpikes hash. We will get it trending sooner or later. And of course, GO HOOS!