The Hoos host the 'Canes this weekend in an attempt to stay atop the Coastal Div. Photo courtesy of Sarah Tolzmann (@notetosarah)
The Cavaliers return to the Dav this weekend after a nine day hiatus and welcome the Miami Hurricanes. In case you have forgotten (how could you have?), the ‘Hoos stand at 43-5 overall and 20-4 in the ACC. While there are four teams that could challenge the Cavs for the ACC regular season title, it seems more likely that Georgia Tech is the only one that stands a legitimate shot being back only two games with six left to play. Outside of the Conference the rest of the nation has taken notice of the amazing season the ‘Hoos have put together as well. Of the five major college baseball polls, only one poll has UVa at a position other than #1. We here at Streakingthelawn.com would like to know what is wrong with the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Seriously guys, get with the program.
Miami will come to Charlottesville as the #3 team in the ACC three and a half games back of the Cavaliers in the Coastal Division. Boasting a 31-16 overall record and a 16-7 in the conference, Da U has performed better than many expected them to entering the year.
On the mound the Hurricanes are lead by two of the better starting pitchers in the conference, LHP Bryan Radziewski and RHP Eric Whaley. The Friday and Saturday night starters have a combined 14-5 record and a 2.87 ERA in their 24 games on the bump. Both strikeout a number of batters with nearly a 1 K/IP average; the ‘Hoos will have to be aggressive early in the count to make sure they don’t fall behind and give the advantage to the pitcher.
Perhaps the best aspect of their pitching game is the back end of their bullpen. Junior LHP Daniel Miranda has been nearly lights out as their closer this year. In his 20 appearances he has a 3-1 record and 11 of the ‘Canes 16 saves. Like Whaley and Radziewski at the beginning of games, Miranda doesn’t walk many batters and strikes out more than his fair share. Hopefully the Cavaliers can take a lead into the 9th and hand it off to their lights out closer because if they are down its going to be harder than usual to come back.
If the ‘Canes are good on the mound, they are nearly as good if not better at the plate. This will be one of the better hitting teams that the ‘Hoos have faced. They have five regulars with AVGs over .300 and seven of their eight starters have two or more home runs. If anyone remembers former U 2b Jemile Weeks, they can remember the kind of speedsters the Hurricanes like to have in their lineup. This year is no different with Soph. utility man Zeke Devoss having a .305 AVG and 28 SBs on the year! Hicks and Swab are going to have to be on their toes all weekend waiting for Devoss and Co. to take off once they get on base.
As is tradition with the final home series of the season, the ‘Hoos will honor the 4th years on Sunday before the game. This year’s class boasts six 4th year players (Barr, Wilson, Swab, Winiarski, Coleman, Biddix, and two 4th year managers which I believe to be the most since since the ’07 class. At least until after next year, this class is the most successful class in UVa baseball history: 182 wins(so far), 1 ACC regular season title, 1 ACC tournament title, 4 NCAA Tournament appearances, 2 Super Regionals, and 1 College World Series appearance. Not too bad.
The Cavaliers have been excellent this year and I don’t expect that to change at all this weekend. While the Hurricanes are good on the mound and at the plate, UVa is a bit better. I expect the ‘Hoos to take 2/3 (pending rain doesn’t cancel games) and move that much closer to their 2nd straight ACC Regular Season title. On a side note, I ran into former Miami RB Clinton Portis the other day and I asked him about the series this weekend. To my surprise, through his grill, he said "It’s a U…..Va thing baby, I understand. Go Hooooooooos!"