In their first time back in Durham since they won the ACC tournament title last May, the Hoos take on the Duke Blue Devils in a key ACC matchup. The Hoos will hope that the magic is still on the field since the series will not be played at Duke's home field but rather at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, site of the 2009 ACC Tournament. (I am going to see how many times I can mention last years tournament because I like talking about it. Bear with me.)
The Blue Devils come into the weekend matchup with a 25-18 overall record and a 7-14 ACC record which puts them at the bottom of the Coastal division but 10th overall in the ACC (a game behind UNC). Do not take that record as an indication that this team is on the same level as Maryland or Wake Forest; they are much better than both. This Blue Devils team took two of three games from both UNC and Clemson this year and has given the Cavalier program all they could handle the past 2 years. Last year, the Hoos were able to take three of the four games but two were close games. Two years ago we lost the series after holding leads in all three games.
This year, the Blue Devils are lead by Will Piwnica-Werms(not related to Keith) who comes in with a .327 BA, 36 RBI, 37 Runs, and 5 Home Runs. Piwnica-Worms is backed up by three other Blue Devils who are batting over .300 this year but after Worms the talent drops off pretty significantly.
Duke's pitching staff is lead by their Saturday starter, Marcus Stroman who has a 5-1 record and an impressive 3.79 ERA. Surprisingly though, Stroman has only started one game so far this year so I am not sure how much stamina he will have or how long he will be able to last in the starting role (It's a big difference being a reliever vs. a starter). The rest of the pitching staff has struggled this year as well with none of the other two starters having a winning record or an ERA under 4.50. That means the Cavaliers could be looking at another offensive show in the friendly confines of Durham Bulls Athletic Park (The 2009 ACC Tournament was there).
The Hoos come in riding a 7 game winning streak which ties for their longest of the season. I don't expect them to snap that streak this weekend as they should be able to take the sweep of the Blue Devils and extend said streak to 10. The Hoos have an impressive record at the Athletic Park as they went 4-0 there last year in the ACC Tournament (I think that's 4 mentions). I flip-flopped back and forth whether they would take two of three or sweep the series since the Blue Devils are a pesky team we seem to have trouble with from time to time but I think with the past success (2009 ACC Tournament site) and the overall talent of the team I think they can pull off the sweep.
As always, I will try to provide as many updates as I can via twitter @STLUVaBaseball and WAHOOWA