Four weeks ago the Cavaliers traveled to Clemson to take on the #4 Tigers. The boys swept them. Three weeks ago they hosted the #4 Florida State Seminoles. The ‘Hoos took two of three and dropped the final game in extra innings. Talk about a tough schedule! This week doesn't get any easier as the Cavaliers travel to Atlanta for a three game set with Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets enter the weekend with a 23-7 record and tied atop the Coastal Division and ACC with UVa at 11-1.
Entering the season, Georgia Tech wasn't even considered to be one of the top 25 teams in the nation by Baseball America and projected to finish second behind UVa in the conference by the ACC coaches. After losing stud SS Derek Dietrich and their anchor on the rotation, Deck McGuire, to the draft in 2010 many thought the Jackets would struggle much like they thought the ‘Hoos would. Similar to the Cavaliers' season, GT has used solid pitching, hitting, and defense to run through their schedule.
If there is one staff in the conference that people could argue has been better than UVa this year it could only be Georgia Tech's. They are silly good. Mark Pope, their Friday starter, has better numbers than our own Danny Hultzen! Pope is 7-0 and has a miniscule 0.66 ERA after only giving up 4 ERs over 54.2 IPs. The only plus side to Pope's numbers is that he only has 48 Ks so far. He will pitch to contact and trust his fielders so, if the ‘Hoos can put the ball in play and be fortunate enough to place it where the Yellow Jackets are not, they could be successful.
Their other two starters for the weekend? They have a combined 8-1 record, 19 ERs, and a 1.98 ERA. No slouches, either. Bradley, their Saturday starter, was touted as their best starter and prospect entering the season and if it wasn't for Pope he would be that pitcher. Buck Farmer (I swear that's his real name) is by far their worst weekend guy and has a terrible 5-1 record and 2.11 ERA. Farmer is horrible! Fortunately for the Cavaliers, they have Tyler Wilson and Cody Winiarski to match up with those two and have been nearly as good as GT's other two.
If Georgia Tech has an advantage in the matchup this weekend it would have to be in the offensive category. Their hitters have been stellar at the plate and amassed a .328 BA and 18 HRs so far. The Cavaliers have been great at the plate and only have a .300 BA and 7 HRs! FRESHMAN OF Kyle Wren has led the Yellow Jackets with a .422 BA and 35 runs scored. Wren also has 9 SBs to add. The Cavaliers are going to have to keep him off the basepaths this weekend to be successful. Unfortunately there is not a true weak spot in Tech's lineup and the ‘Hoos will have their hands full. I know Coach Kuhn will have a gameplan that will do well if the pitchers are able to execute.
UVa has been successful in the past couple years because of hard nose play and timely hitting. If they are going to win this weekend it is going to take their A game at the plate and on the mound. I do think the gameplan will be there and they will execute but will fall just short and only take one of three this weekend.
Honestly, if UVa is able to win a game this weekend, and be competitive in the other two, I would still consider it to be a successful weekend. I'll be providing updates this weekend via Twitter @STLUVaBaseball and as our Southern Photo correspondent Sarah Tolzmann will say this weekend in Atlanta "Go HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOS!"