Coming off an impressive 12-3 victory over VMI on Wednesday night, the Hoos look to ride that momentum they built to some victories over the visiting Clemson Tigers. UVa stands at 2-4 right now in the ACC and are now a full three games behind both Miami and UNC in the standings of the Coastal Division. If the season ended right now, the Hoos would enter the ACC tournament as the 8th seed.....of 8 seeds. Fortunately for UVa fans and baseball players alike, there are 24 more ACC games to play.
Clemson comes to Davenport field with an 11-8 overall record and stand at 3-3 in the ACC. Five of those eight losses have come to UNC and USC; both teams currently ranked in the top ten in the country. Last weekend, the Tigers hosted Boston College and came away with a series sweep. This week, they swept a home and away two game series with Elon. Riding a five game winning streak will give Clemson a lot of confidence coming in to the weekend that the Cavaliers will have to derail.
The good thing about derailing Clemson's confidence is the fact that Coach O'Connor owns Jack Legget and Co. O'Connor has an outstanding 17-4 record against the Tigers and has 6-1 record since 2009. Last time Clemson came to Charlottesville, the Cavaliers took two out of three from the Tigers to secure the series victory. Last year, the Cavaliers shocked many in the country by sweeping the Tigers in the early season series.
This year Clemson features two stellar starting pitchers. Friday starter Kevin Brady might not have the record (1-1) to support his case but his 2.89 ERA suggests he has pitched quite well in his outing so far this year. More impressive are his 31 strikeouts in only 28 IP. Sunday starter Kevin Pohle has even better numbers than Brady. Pohle will enter this weekend with a 3-0 record a 1.09 ERA. Even though he is averaging nearly a hit an inning, he has only given up three earned runs on the season. Dominic Leone, who will take the mound on Saturday, has a 5.09 ERA. If UVa is going to take advantage of some less than stellar starting pitching, Saturday is going to be their chance. Leone has walked more batters than he has struck out this year. Getting on base and putting pressure on these pitchers is going to be a key to success for UVa.
Instead of focusing on the hitters of Clemson's I wanted to point out a different weakness they have that is similar to our Cavaliers. So far, in the 19 games the Tigers have played, they have 23 errors. Sure, they have won eleven of those games but a .969 fielding percentage isn't going to get it done in the long ACC season. I don't have the exact numbers in front of me but I can imagine that many of Clemson's losses have come when their pitchers walk a significant amount of hitters and their fielders make at least one errors. I think we all can agree that that has been UVa's downfall so far this year.
I am quite certain many UVa fans have grown more than frustrated with the way things have gone this season. Personally, I can't say I blame them, I have been frustrated at times too. I will say that I can see things turning around a bit. Just last weekend the boys lead two games at Florida State late in the game. Unfortunately, they weren't able to finish off the Seminoles and fell in both tilts. Point of my argument is this: UVa has the firepower to compete with anyone in the country. They have the talent to win games, and those wins will eventually fall. Unfortunately, those wins are only going to come when they start limiting the errors. Yes, I know you can only last so long on good feelings and belief, and neither of those things get you in a tournament, but hey, those could turn into a 20 game winning streak.
As always, I'll be doing my best to give those updates you all know and love on twitter (@STLUVaBaseball) and of course, GO HOOS!