Baseball Begins their Road to the Title

The regular season is over. The Cavaliers have had a nice little run up until this point through the ACC. Sure, there were some bumps and bruises along the way; like in Tallahassee or when the Tar Heels came to Charlottesville. Luckily those bumps and the 36 victories the Hoos racked up over the last three months mean nothing. The home stretch to UVa's third ACC tournament title in four years begins today.

Right now the Hoos are 36-16-1. Their NCAA RPI is 14th in the nation right now and they appear to have the inside track to hosting a regional in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The selection committee is a ten member board that takes everything in to consideration when deciding what teams will go where. Two or three more wins this week in Greensboro will go a long way in influencing their decision to keep UVa in Charlottesville.

The tournament is broken up in to two groups of four teams that play a round robing tournament over the first four days. The winners of the two groups advance to Sunday to play in a winner take all ACC title game. Ties are broken up by the head to head record in the event of a two way tie and the highest seed wins out in the event of a three way tie. What does that mean? Going 3-0 is the only way of assuring your team makes it to Sunday.

With the way the ACC settled the Cavaliers were matched up with Florida State, Clemson, and Georgia Tech for pool play down in Greensboro. Talk about the who's who of some of the nation's top baseball programs. The other side features UNC, Miami, NC St, and Wake Forest.

More on UVa's opponents after the jump....

Clemson (32-24, 16-14): The last time these two teams squared off in the ACC tournament was 2009. I need not remind you what happened that year. The Hoos handled and swept Clemson earlier this year when the Tigers came to Charlottesville. The Tigers have been on quite a roller coaster ride this year winning tough games (FSU) and head scratching losses (WFU). Clemson will send Freshman RHP Daniel Gossett to the mound who comes in with a 6-3 record and a 4.83 ERA in eight starts and nine relief appearances. Gossett didn't pitch at all in the team's series earlier this year, but fortunately for UVa fans Branden Kline did. Kline through a complete game against the Tigers in March and he will take the mound today in Greensboro. The bat that the Hoos will have to look out for is Junior 3b Richie Shaffer. Shaffer was the First Team All-ACC 3B this year batting .344 with 10 HRs and 45 RBI.

Georgia Tech (33-24, 12-18): The middle game for the Hoos will be taking on the team that underachieved the most in the Conference. Many thought GT would be in the top 10 at the end of the year but injuries and being jackasses on the field lead them to a 12-18 mark in the conference. Neither team has announced who will take the mound but I would guess Kyle Crockett or Scott Silverstein will get the nod for the Hoos. Both had success against the Yellow Jackets this year in Charlottesville when the Cavaliers took two of three from the visitors.

Florida State (43-13, 24-6): If there is one team on the UVa schedule that I imagine the Hoos would want to play again, it would be Florida State. The boys were swept in Tallahassee early this year but matched up with the Seminoles very competitively and lead FSU entering the 8th inning in the Sunday and Monday games. Mike Compton will take the mound for FSU with a 10-1 record and 2.96 ERA. The freshman was appointed to the Second Team All-ACC this season, but the pitching staff is not what I would be worried about. The staff is never the strong point for the Seminoles. What I'm worried about is the Jayce Boyd-James Ramsey dynamic duo. The two accounted for more than 100 runs and RBI this season while both were given first team All-ACC honors. Ramsey did his teammate one better by winning the Player of the Year award. FSU has made the ACC title game every year for the past three years. The last time these two were on the same side of the bracket was 2010 with the Seminoles getting the better of the Cavaliers.

Outlook: If you had asked me yesterday who I thought would win UVa's side of the bracket I would have told you FSU without a doubt. The Seminoles have the strongest hitters and just enough pitching to win. Luckily the Yellow Jackets upset the Seminoles yesterday 5-4 to open up all sorts of drama. Obviously the key to making it to Sunday would be to win all three games. Honestly, I don't expect the Hoos to do that, but I do expect them to be playing Sunday. This is the way I think it will shake out (winners in bold):

GT (1-0) - FSU (0-1)
Clemson (1-0) - UVa (0-1)
UVa (1-1) - GT (1-1)
FSU (1-1) - Clemson (1-1)
GT (2-1) - Clemson (1-2)
UVa (2-1) - FSU (1-2)

We'll worry about the UVa-UNC matchup for Sunday when the timing is more appropriate. The Hoos kick it off today with Clemson at 11 AM on RSN and ESPN3. I will do my best to not do any work for the US Government and provide you updates. Go Hoos!

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