While most were focusing their attention to the game at Klockner or on CBS for the MADNESS, the Cavalier baseball team was turning in their best weekend of the season. Hosting the preseason Atlantic Division favorite Clemson Tigers was going to be a daunting task coming off the sweep at the hands of Florida State the weekend before. Luckily for UVa, history was on their side, and I imagine Clemson's coach Jack Leggett doesn't have a short memory.
Friday started off just the way Coach O'Connor and company dream every weekend series would start off. The Hoos jumped out to a 3-0 lead by the third inning courtesy of Colin Harrington scoring two runs and Chris Taylor adding a third. Clemson's starting pitcher was out of the game by the end of the third and it would be up to the UVa pitching staff to do their job. Scott Silverstein took the ball and did exactly that. Scott gave UVa a quality start by only giving up a single run over his six innings while striking out three. The bullpen took over in the 7th and held Clemson at bay. Although Justin Thompson gave up two runs in the 9th, the game was in hand already and he was able to earn his third save of the season. The Hoos ended up winning 6-3 in large part to Jared King's three hits and four RBIs. The senior leader is having an impressive season and as he goes, UVa goes.
If you watched the College World Series game last year against South Carolina and have been wondering where the Branden Kline that amazed from that game was, Saturday he returned. Kline dominated in his finest start as a Cavalier and UVa's first complete game of the year. He gave up a leadoff triple to begin the game and a lone single in the fourthinning, but that was it. He didn't give up another hit and most importantly, didn't walk anyone. Kline had struggled withthe walk this year but if Saturday was any indication of how the rest of his year is going to be, I have confidence Kline is back in form. Chris Taylor and Keith Werman chipped in with two RBIs a piece and helped secure the 5-1 win and the series victory.
Tasting the blood in the water, the Cavaliers took to the field on Friday knowing they could make a statement that the whole country would take notice of. Artie Lewicki took the ball and turned in the third quality start of the weekend for the Hoos. Lewicki is the player I have been most impressed with so far this season. After not playing most of last year due to an "injury", Lewicki has grabbed the starting role and ran with it just when the Cavaliers needed him to. The bullpen closed out the final three innings and Justin Thompson was able to earn his fourth save of the season. Werman, Fisher, and Harrington all chipped in with two hits a piece to pace the offense and secure the 5-3 victory. First year Derek Fisher was the leader at the plate though with a double, triple, and three runs scored. This kid is going to be something special and if he can up his power numbers, UVa's outfield with Fisher, Papi, and Shifflett could be a force to be reckoned with for at least the next three years.
The sweep moved the Hoos record on the season 15-8-1. I am betting that most people who were close to the edge of the cliff after the first couple weekends have backed off a bit now and are starting to regain confidence. The wins also moved the Cavaliers in to 5th place in the ACC and only two games back of Miami in the Coastal Division.
Although Coach O'Connor was tickled with the sweep, he was probably sad to see Clemson leave. His 20-4 record against the Tigers is one of the best records he owns against ACC opponents. Playing the Tigers every weekend I am sure is something UVa is petitioning the Conference to allow.
Monday is a day off before getting back on the field for a two game midweek series against Towson. I will give a brief preview of the tigers some time tomorrow. Til then, wear the orange and blue and remind every Hokie you come across their degree is the equivalent of 5th grade education. And of course, GO HOOS!