Going in to the weekend and the season we all knew there would be growing pains, but we hoped they wouldn't be coming in the first game of the season. Fortunately for the UVa baseball team, it was only game one of a 56 game season.
I mentioned in the preview article for the weekend and the season that catching was going to be rough for the Hoos. There is a lot of pressure put on the position in the program and it is going to take a while for Coach Kuhn and whoever is behind the plate to become comfortable with each other. First year Nate Irving is more than capable of being a good catcher in the system. Having said that, he can't let happen again what happened against Boston College.
Even though the Cavaliers fell, the team actually played fairly well. Branden Kline and Kyle Crockett combined to strike out 6 over the nine innings while only giving up a single earned run. Kline took the lost but what hurt him the most was putting himself in poor situations combined with the learning curve for Irving. With two outs and men on 2nd and 3rd and the Hoos leading 3-0, Kline struck out the batter but was able to reach first after a passed ball. Next batter, BC's Spenser Payne, hit a three run home run to give the Eagles the lead that they wouldn't relinquish.
At the plate, the boys were able to string around eight hits, score three runs, and only strike out four times. Jared King and Reed Gragnani both had two hits a piece and played excellent defense. First year Mike Papi made his presence known early, notching his first hit of his career in the third inning and was also able to score two runs for the Cavaliers. The thing that strikes me the most from the box score was the amount of walks the Hoos were able to earn. At the plate the UVa mantra is "aggressively patient," which I understand doesn't make any sense whatsoever. It could have been nerves or BC might have been filling up the zone with fastballs but one walk over nine innings is not going to cut it.
Leaving the game I imagine most people were hitting the panic button (I am looking at you Brian....), but I don't think anyone should do that just yet. The Cavaliers could go 0-3 this weekend and I still would not think it would be necessary to panic. This team is quite young and inexperienced and it's their first time playing a team in a different uniform. It is not the same as playing someone else in an orange and blue jersey everyday at Davenport Field at 4 in the afternoon. Give them time to grow and being to understand the game and they will be just fine.
Today the Hoos square off with Coastal Carolina at two this afternoon and will likely play JMU tonight instead of tomorrow due to inclement weather in the Myrtle Beach area. I am most interested in the Coastal game as redshirt third year Scott Silverstein will make a big start in his comeback road and we need to see how this team will bounce back.
As always, I will do my best to relay game info via twitter (@STLUVaBaseball) and Go Hoos!