I slept on this weekend series. I could've sworn tonight's game was at 7. Oh well. NOW WE GO!
I thought Miami was going to be the cream of the Coastal Division after they swept Carolina earlier this month at home. They were 11-4 and looked like they were going to run away with the division. Instead, they've gone 1-5 against FSU and Virginia Tech and remain a game behind UNC while a game up on UVa in the Coastal standings. This weekend we'll see who is ready to cement themselves at the top of the division and who wants to be the 6th seed in the ACC tournament.
Miami's pitching has been it's strong suit this season. Entering the weekend they feature a 3.02 ERA which puts them in third in the ACC. What has hurt this pitching staff the most and lead to more losses than they should have is their .960 fielding percentage. That terrible fielding has lead to 30 more runs than the pitching staff should be accountable for! They strikeout 7.72 batters per game which is in the middle of the pack for the conference. What all this tells me is that if the Hoos can limit the strikeouts, put the ball in play, and pressure the defense Miami could crack under some pressure.
At the plate, UVa needs to focus on one guy: Peter O'Brien. O'Brien is in the top ten in all major ACC hitting categories and is feared throughout the conference. He's lit up the ACC for a .354 Batting average, a .677 slugging percentage, a .465 OBP, 38 RBI, and 10 HRs. This guy transferred from Bethune Cookman and was drafted in the third round last year. THE THIRD ROUND....WHY ARE YOU STILL IN COLLEGE PETER?!!? The next closest hitter in Miami's lineup has a .297 batting average and isn't nearly as daunting. Overall, the Canes have the 9th best (actually tied for 7th but whatever) average in the league and strike out nearly eight times a game.
This series is going to be similar to the UNC series for the Cavaliers. If they can get to the Miami pitching staff and score runs, they should be able to be successful. My take is that it is never easy to win on the road in the ACC and it's even harder to win in Miami, but UVa takes two out of three in Coral Gables! All the games are on ESPN3 and Monday is on ESPNU so make sure you are watching. I'll actually get to watch the games so follow the quips and funny anecdotes on twitter (@STLUVaBaseball)!