Think about this: UVa hasn't given up a hit since March 26th, a run in the last 16 innings, and hasn't dropped a game in 12 days (20 March vs. FSU)! The Hoos will look to continue this hotstreak this weekend when they travel to Blacksburg to take on the Hokies.
I would like to preface this preview by pointing out to everyone that in order to write this I had to visit the VPISU athletics website. I don't know if you know how hard it was for me to type in the search bar "Virginia Tech Baseball." It hurt me physically and emotionally and I am not sure I will ever be the same again. I know my computer now thinks less of me as well.
The Hokies enter this weekend's series with a 14-13 overall record and an equally impressive 1-8 ACC record. Even though they are 5-10 in their last 15 games and lost a midweek game this past Tuesday against Radford, they registered their first ACC win of the season last Sunday against Boston College. The Hokies have had one of the more difficult ACC schedules so far this year having had series against Miami, UNC, and BC who have a combined 17-10 ACC record.
We all know that the 'Hoos pitching staff is one of the best in the nation. Currently, they are 4th nationally with an exquisite 1.92 ERA and lead the nation with 25 wins, 11 SVs, and 8 shutouts. Tech on the other hand has a decent 3.88 ERA overall and a .245 BA against (UVa's is .200). Their Friday starter, Joe Mantiply, has struggled the most out of the Hokies weekend rotation. Mantiply limps in with a 2-4 record and a 5.02 ERA. The Soph. LHP has had a hard time getting outs this year and has given up 47 hits in the 37.2 IP. Redshirt Junior RHP March Zecchino will start the Saturday game against Tyler Wilson and the Cavaliers. Zecchino has a decent 3.82 ERA even though he only has a 2-3 record. The Hokies best pitcher in Sr. RHP Joe Parsons throws on Sunday. Parsons is 4-1 on the year and has an almost Cavalier-esque 2.43 ERA. Parsons will clearly be the Cavaliers biggest challenge but he is apt to bad days giving up 3 runs in only 3.1 IP against Miami.
If you've been reading closely you'll see that the Hokies best pitcher appears to pitch on Sundays while their weakest starter starts on Friday. Most college baseball programs set their staff up in the opposite format with their star pitcher on Friday. Many believe this move is to try and get as many wins for VPISU but see it as being "Bush-League." I certainly don't agree with it but what else would you expect from the Hokies?
At the plate the Hokies appear to be a little better than their counterparts on the mound. With a .277 AVG and 29 HRs most would think they would have won a few more than 14 games this season. Unfortunately (I LOL'd also, its actually fortunately), their pitching and defense has let them down. VPISU is lead by R-Soph Andrew Rash who has been on fire so far this season compiling a .337 BA with 28 RBIs, 22 Runs, and 8 Home Runs.
The final aspect of the game that could have a significant impact on the outcomes would be the Hokies defense. The 'Hoos don't strike out often and put the ball in play more times than not to put pressure on the opposition's defense to make a play. Fortunately for the Cavaliers, the Hokies have struggled this year doing that and have committed 33 errors and have compiled a .969 fielding percentage (UVa has 14 E's and a .986 FLD%).
Under Coach O'Connor the Cavaliers have not had too much trouble putting away the Hokies. UVa has 13 of the 16 meetings since 2004 (when Oak took over) and has only 1 series loss in those 6 years. Why do I know about that one series loss? It was the last series of the year in 2009 and we dropped two of the three games. We all know what happened over the next 3 weeks so I won't drag on about it.
This weekend I expect the Hoos to take care of business just as they have every other weekend this year. With timely hitting, taking advantages of VPISU's mistakes, and extraordinary pitching I expect the Cavaliers to sweep the series and move to 11-1 in ACC play. I'll be providing updates on twitter @STLUVaBaseball and of course as our fearless leader Brian "@TheUVAFool" Leung says GO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOS!