Three weeks into ACC Conference play and the UVa baseball team is off to its best start in the history of the program. The 2009 team was 19-2 after the first three ACC weekends but had had 3 games cancelled including two against Florida State. The 2010 team had four losses including a disappointing loss to Wright State after the third weekend but had only accumulated 20 wins. Coming into this past weekend matchup with Maryland the team had already set the best 24 game record in UVa history but had a chance to get off to the best ACC start in school history. 22-2 overall and 5-1 in the ACC was a hell of a way to start the season but Coach O’Connor and company are never satisfied.
I said in my preview last weekend that Maryland was struggling coming and shouldn’t be too difficult for the excellent pitching staff and impressive lineup that Cavaliers have showcased all year. While I wasn’t completely wrong, I came away this weekend more impressed with the Terps than I have been in the previous years. Unfortunately, most of the Terps impressive new players are transfers and won’t be at Maryland for more of two years but it appears that Coach Bakich certainly have things going in the right direction. Most in the UVa community should have expected it as well, Bakich studied under Coach McMullan at ECU.
Friday’s game was the game that I expected we would see the entire weekend. UVa used timely hitting and capitalized on Maryland’s many errors to explode to an insurmountable lead. Danny Hultzen started for the ‘Hoos and although he did not have his strongest game of the year, he turned in 6 strong innings and struck out 9. Fellow 3rdyear Shane Halley came in after Hultzen and closed out the game without giving up a hit the final 3 innings. Ten different Cavaliers had hits and five of them scored more than one run. The fourth inning was where UVa did their most damage. The Cavaliers used six hits, three walks, and 2 Maryland errors to score 10 runs and blow the game wide open. The ‘Hoos never looked back and won the game 14-1.Due to the impending snow and bad weather the two teams agreed to play a double header on Saturday. The first game of the afternoon made Cavalier fans remember 2008 and 2009 where they earned the "Cardiac Cavs" moniker. Through 7 innings the Terps lead the Cavs 2-0 and were looking to pull the series even with the upset. In the bottom half of the 7th with 2 outs 3rdyear Stephen Proscia doubled to kindle a rally. Kenny Swab followed with a walk and Dave Coleman’s single plated Proscia. In the 8thMaryland got two quick outs before the wheels fell off. Back to back infield errors allowed Proscia to come up big once again for UVa and singled to drive in John Hicks as the tying run. A line drive off the bat of Kenny Swab ricocheted off of the UMD’s pitchers leg and allowed 1styear Mitchell Shifflett to score all the way from 2ndand give UVa the lead. Jared King put the cherry on top with another single to score Swab and give the ‘Hoos the 4-2 lead they wouldn’t relinquish. 1st year Kyle Crockett got the final outs of the 8th inning to earn his first win and Branden Kline closed out the 9th to earn his 9th save.
The nightcap of the doubleheader saw the Cavaliers fall behind to the Terps early in the game again. Facing a 2-0 deficit heading into the 2ndinning the ‘Hoos were able to score all four of their runs and cement a lead. With 2 outs and Kenny Swab on 2nd, UVa was able to use great hitting, walks, and fortunate bounces of the ball to plate four runs and take the lead. 4thyear Cody Winiarski pitched another stellar game giving up only 2 runs on 4 hits and striking out 5 in 7 IP. Justin Thompson and Branden Kline combined to close the game out without giving up a run and only allowing 2 hits. Kline was even able to earn his 10th save before the halfway point of the regular season.
With the sweep of the Terps, the ‘Hoos move to a combined 23-1 against Maryland since 2004 with the lone loss coming in 2009. The Cavs also have improved to 8-1 in the ACC which puts them only a game behind Georgia Tech who is riding a 16 game winnings streak including their most recent three game sweep of Miami this past weekend.
The college baseball polls for this week should be released sometime around 1 this afternoon. While I would expect the boys to move up in the rankings from #3, I don’t expect them to move all the way to #1. Last week’s #1 Florida did lose their weekend series to South Carolina but #2 Vanderbilt was able to win their series at Arkansas and has an impressive 22-3 record.
Only one midweek game this week with a Tuesday tilt against George Washington who has an impressive 7-17 record. I’ll be providing updates from the game and dropping random baseball knowledge on Twitter @STLUVaBaseball and as always GO HOOS!