The Flames had a long way to travel in such a short time to get from Daytona last night to Charlottesville today (waiting....waiting....No? Fine). Anyways, Liberty travels up Route 29 today to visit the Cavaliers in a midweek tilt featuring two of the best baseball teams in the state.
Liberty is having a pretty impressive 2012 campaign so far going 8-1 with their lone loss coming in the back half of a double header against Siena this past weekend. They swept their first weekend against The Citadel and Towson and went on to defeat Radford in their midweek game last week.
On the mound, the Flames will feature Junior LHP Tim Dudley who comes in to the game with a 0-0 record and 0.00 ERA in his 5.1 innings pitched this season. He is pitching this year after pitching only a single inning last year due to injury and not pitching much his freshman year. I don't have much of a scouting report on Dudley but it seems that he doesn't strike out many (2 Ks in 5.1 IP) but also doesn't walk any at all. Pitchers that are aggressive in the strike zone are usually feasted upon by Cavalier hitting and I don't expect this to be any different. The Flames are averaging giving up a little over 3 runs a game and seem to be prone to giving up a lot of runs in certain games (nine runs in two games). If the Hoos are aggressive when they need to be at the plate and don't come in looking to walk (if they do they'll find themselves on the bench anyways) the runs should be there for a victory.
At the plate and in the field Liberty is lead by Junior infielder Bryan Aanderud. If Jared King is Babe Ruth reincarnated this kid has channeled Ty Cobb so far this year. He enters today's tilt with a .500 average (16-32), 4 runs, and 7 RBIs. Keeping Aanderud and Zack Haley off the bases will be a key to success for the Cavalier pitching staff. They do seem to strike out a bit averaging nearly 5 strike outs a game which might be a factor the Hoos will need to exploit.
In the field, Liberty is as good as it comes. They have only made four errors on the season and three of those four have come from one player. In order to score runs, UVa is going to have to get hits and not rely on the other team to hand them runners to use.
First pitch is at 3 pm today and as always I will be providing updates as I can via twitter (@STLUVaBaseball). As an aside, while I was in Charlottesville I got to talking with John Barr who is pretty good friends with Sammy Z. He was telling me about how during the Duke game, Sammy had this conversation with Duke guard Seth Curry:
Seth: "Hey Z! I heard you guys had a good baseball team!"
Sammy: "Uhhhh, sure?"
Seth: "Man, baseball is the best sport ever! Way better than lax!"
Sammy: (Misses three pointer) "Are we really having this conversation?"
Seth: "Why not? The refs are going to give us the game and I'm just going to give the ball to the 8 foot Plumlee brothers anyways. I saw a couple of Liberty games while I didn't go to class since everyone loved me because my brother was famous"
Sammy: "Listen, this defense we run is hard to follow so I need to focus right now"
Seth: "Whatever man. What I am getting at is UVa is awesome at baseball. Go Hoos!"
Sammy: (Airballs three pointer) "Yea, great. Go Hoos"
I swear that is what John told me.