Knowing they needed to keep up their winning streak if they wanted to have a good shot at hosting a regional, the Hoos baseball team stepped up to the plate (Ba dum che! I'll be here all year!) and took care of the visiting Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
Taking two of three from Georgia Tech this year isn't the same as what it might have been in previous years. That is not to take anything away from the Cavaliers as any weekend series victory is good, but this Yellow Jacket team has struggled and severely underachieved this year. With that said, taking two of three from an ACC opponent will likely help UVa's standings in the national rankings and the official NCAA RPI which should come out some time early this week.
Personally, I still think this team is on the fringe to host a regional. It could go either way and really depends on if the NCAA tournament committee, which has a history of screwing UVa, thinks their final ACC record is impressive enough to warrant a regional. The Cavaliers are likely fighting with NC St for the third hosting spot from the conference right now, although it is quite possible that the conference could have four hosts. Lucky for UVa, NC St has to travel to FSU next weekend while the Hoos will be in College Park (unfortunately for UVa players).
Anyways, on to what happened this past weekend after the jump....
Friday night didn't start off as planned to say the least. Branden Kline had been turning in impressive start after impressive start over the last few weeks and Coach O'Connor wanted to continue that. Kline wasn't able to give that to the Hoos only going 3.1 innings while giving up five runs on three walks and five hits. The bullpen trio of Crockett, Howard, and Thompson however was able to hold the Yellow Jackets scoreless over the final 5.2 innings allowing only 2 hits and one walk in that time span.
The GT drought was long enough for the Hoos to score in the 8th via Jared King crossing home plate due to a Brandon Downes with 1 out and secure a victory. The story of the night though was the power numbers the Hoos threw in to their box score in the first three innings. It started in the first inning when Stephen Bruno launched a two run home run and Derek Fisher followed suit with a home run of his own. The second inning started off similar to the first with Brandon Downes knocking his first home run of his UVa career to lead off the inning. The power numbers finally faded in the third inning as Bruno came to the plate again and hit his second home run of the game and sixth of the year.
New day, but same story for the Cavaliers on Saturday when Scott Silverstein was only able to give the Hoos four innings before handing the ball over to the dominant bullpen. Scott only gave up two runs but ran in to some trouble and was relieved by Shane Halley in the 5th inning. Halley only worked one inning but did enough to earn his 9th win of the season. Howard, Crockett, and Thompson closed out the game again as they did on Friday to secure the UVa victory.
Unlike Friday, there was no onslaught of home runs for the Cavaliers as they earned their runs the hard way. Only Chris Taylor was able to register a multi hit game for UVa but Stephen Bruno continued his hot hitting ways with two RBI.
The bullpen that had been so strong the first two games finally faltered in the final game of the series blowing the 4-2 lead in the 9th inning. Artie Lewicki was the best starter of the weekend rotation turning in seven innings with only allowing four Georgia Tech hits and two runs. Thompson might have just run out of gas in his third straight day of work in the ninth inning. The Yellow Jackets had four hits and scored two runs in the ninth inning to tie the game and force extra innings. JT continued struggling in the 10th giving up a solo home run to give GT the lead that they wouldn't relinquish.
Overall the weekend was a success, but you can't help but think that this team knows they should have been able to complete the sweep. Similar to the beginning of the season when the team was dropping games that they should have been winning (see NC St and FSU series). I still think this team is playing exceptionally well and at the right time which is cause for concern for the rest of the conference for the upcoming tournament in Greensboro. Hell, I bet nobody wants to see the Hoos in their regional given their success this season and their historical success in the tournament over the last final years. That is the stat all UVa fans and players should be most proud of.
No game tonight but the boys return to the field to host VCU in the second game of the home and home series at the Dav on Tuesday night. Til then, GO HOOS!