After having the most successful regular season in program history the Hoos come into this week's ACC tournament ranked in the top 5 in all major polls, the ACC regular season title, and the #1 seed in the ACC tournament.
The ACC tournament is set up with 8 teams split up into 2 pools of 4 teams each. Each pool plays round robin play until Sunday when the two winners of the pools play a single game to decide who will be crowned as the ACC Champion and receive the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. Since the Hoos clinched the #1 seed they will have the #4 seed Miami, #5 seed Florida State, and #8 seed Boston College. They begin the tournament tomorrow opening with Boston College at noon, they will play FSU at 4 on Thursday, Friday will be a day off in which the team will find a local high school to practice at, and Saturday the Hoos will conclude pool play against Miami at noon on Saturday.
The Hoos will open on Wednesday with the Boston College Eagles whom they swept earlier this year in Charlottesville. The Eagles will start Pat Dean who has a 5-2 record and a 4.71 ERA. Dean didn't pitch in the season series due to an injury but has been Boston College's ace all season. Cody Winiarski will start on the mound for the Hoos and hope to establish dominance in Greensboro. Cody had a pretty great start against Boston College going 6 innings and only giving up 1 run on 3 hits. Over the 3 games against Boston College the Hoos scored a combined 22 runs and only struggled to score runs in one game.
Thursday the Hoos face a tougher opponent in the Florida State Seminoles. FSU would have been the #2 seed as the Atlantic Division champion but they choked like a cat on a hairball the final weekend against Clemson. The Noles counter the Hoos with Brian Busch who had a 4.42 ERA and a 4-1 record. Busch pitched on Saturday in relief for the Noles in a 9-8 victory for the Cavs with late inning heroics(6 run 9th). Busch pitched a strong 3 innings scattering 4 hits and a run. The Hoos will have the recently silly-hot(in a great pitching lately sortof way...no homo) Robert Morey on the mound even though he had his worst start of the season in Tallahassee. I think this will be the scariest game of the 3 for UVa because FSU is a ridiculously streaky team. At any time the 'Noles could go off and hit 6 home runs in a game and from what I hear the stadium in Greensboro is small and the ball flies out of it.
On Saturday the Hoos will play what will hopefully be a meaningless game( I wont go into how because its hard to put in words). Miami will have David Gutierrez. The Hoos handled Gutierrez pretty well last Saturday scoring 5 runs on 7 hits over 5 innings. Unfortunately, that was the only game he lost the whole season as he went 5-1 with a 4.32 ERA. Hopefully last Saturday wasn't just a bad outing for Gutierrez but a precursor to what could happen this Saturday. The Hoos will plan on pitching Danny Hultzen who also struggled a bit last weekend against the Canes but was picked up by his offense. I expect Danny to right the ship this weekend and be as dominant as he was in the beginning of the season. If the game doesn't matter I would expect Will Roberts or Chad O'Connor to get the nod and the start on Saturday as Danny would be pushed to the ACC Championship game on Sunday.
I fully expect the Hoos to win their first two games against the Golden Eagles and Seminoles. Even though the stadium might benefit the home run friendly Seminoles, the Hoos have played in spacious and pitcher friendly Davenport Field all year and could very easily do the same damage as the Seminoles. Fortunately, as I said earlier, the Hoos will know if their game against Miami will matter going into the game. If it isnt meaningless I see the Hoos winning since they beat the Canes last weekend. If it is meaningless, unfortunately, I would expect the Canes to win. Similar to the situation we were in 2 years ago in Jacksonville where we already knew we were playing Miami for the Championship on Sunday, everyone plays a bit more relaxed and not as intense. Anyways, what I am saying is that I see the Hoos making the ACC Championship game on Sunday and playing Georgia Tech for the title. As always, I will try and provide updates for the games(even though 2 of them will be during work hours) via twitter @STLUVaBaseball and WAHOOWA.