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Baseball Begins ACC Slate; Hosts VPISU

After their impressive 14-6 win on Tuesday at James Madison, the Hoos welcome VPISU at Davenport Field this weekend. The Cavaliers have an impressive record against the Hokies having gone 16-3 under Coach O'Connor with only a single series loss since he came on board ('09, bad weekend, whatever). UVa is going to have to conjure up some of that previous magic this weekend to stay on course to get back on the winning track ways.

Unlike previous season, VPISU does not have a terrible overall record. While they have not been defeating the LSUs and South Carolinas of the country, their 11-2 record does indicate they are a team UVa will not be able to take lightly. They took this past week off to gear up for the beginning of their ACC schedule but swept Yale last weekend in their four game series.

On the mound, the Hokies will be lead by RHP Manny Martir and LHP Joe Mantiply. Martir, a redshirt Senior, has thrown quite well for VPISU so far this year. In the two games he has started, Martir has struck out 13 and only given up one run on two hits. Martir has only walked four in those 11 innings. The Hokie's Saturday starter, Mantiply has been even better than Martir has been. Mantinply has a 2-0 record and a 0.46 ERA having only given up one earned run while striking out 16 in 19.2 innings pitched. Unlike Martir, Mantiply is more prone to giving up hits with 17 given up in those 19.2 innings. Both are good pitchers judging by their records and numbers, but both also have weaknesses the Cavaliers can exploit. Martir has two starts but has only pitched 11 innings indicating to me he doesn't have much stamina built up yet this early in the season while Mantiply, as I pointed out, is prone to getting hit around a bit. Force Martir to throw pitches and get hits early against Mantiply and the Hoos could come away with victories on Friday and Saturday.

Chad Pinder leads the way for VPISU at the plate and in the field. The sophomore infielder has batted .383 with nine runs and eleven RBIs so far this year with an impressive .681 slugging percentage. (Side note, Pinder, a Poquoson, VA native is lucky he didn't have me and the outstanding Grafton team to go through) Pinder has been the strongest starter of the team but the Hokies also feature six other hitters who have appeared in more than half of their games and feature batting averages over .300. Fortunately for the VPISU opponents, the Hokies are striking out nearly seven times per game. That might be able to get victories against Yale, West Virginia, and Bradley, but that isn't going to fly against UNC, Georgia Tech, Florida State, and hopefully the Cavaliers.

As I alluded to earlier this week in my JMU recap, the shake up in the rotation has taken place. Third year Branden Kline has been replaced as the Friday starter by Whit Mayberry. Kline will likely move back to his more familiar role in the bullpen as the closer. Mayberry has pitched exceptionally well this year on Sunday so moving to Friday should not be a big shake up for him. Redshirt third year Scott Silverstein remains as the Saturday starter while Coach O'Connor has not named a Sunday starter yet. I would expect second year Artie Lewicki to get the nod as he has proven himself so far this year as more than capable.

VPISU is mightily improved this year while we all have seen the struggles that our Cavaliers have gone through so far this season. Fortunately, with the opening of the ACC schedule, it is the beginning of a new season. All can be forgiven and forgotten with a strong ACC showing. National pundits will throw away the 7-4-1 start if the Cavaliers can muster up a 17-13 ACC record or better. It is going to be tough but what I saw on Tuesday against JMU gave me confidence in this team going forward. I think the Hoos make a statement this weekend and win the series 2-1. Most experts are counting out UVa and they need to show them that while this isn't a #1 ranked team, they are still a force to be reckoned with.

This week's news of the weird comes from the Newport News City Jail. This conversation that took place between a Newport News police officer and Marcus Vick was relayed to me via a source I can't reveal.

Officer: Hey Marcus, you were pretty good during your time as QB in Blacksburg.
Vick: Yo dog (get it? Dawg! LOLz), SHUTUP! I was the best. Better then my brother!
Officer: Um, alright? Tech has some other good sports too huh?
Vick: No we don't. They only got football down there.
Other inmate (white male, has 5 teeth and not much hair): Yea! I got season tickets to Lane! They don't play no other sports!
Vick: Seriously fool, you dumb. Only football.
Officer: Alright, well UVa plays VPISU this weekend in baseball....
Vick: Like I care? I don't care anymore about Tech. Go HOOS!.......Yo officer, can I borrow that gun?

As always, I'll be providing updates, overally comedy, and responding to any and all trolls via Twitter (@STLUVaBaseball).