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Charlottesville Regional: Elon Phoenix

After the Cavaliers beat Army and the Phoenix took care of UNC-Wilmington, the two will square off later tonight to decide who will advance to the Regional Championship game.

Coach O'Connor looks to lead the Cavaliers to their fourth straight victory and stay in the winner's bracket this afternoon against Elon
Coach O'Connor looks to lead the Cavaliers to their fourth straight victory and stay in the winner's bracket this afternoon against Elon
USA Today Sports

Both the Cavaliers and Pheonix took care of business yesterday in their opening round games. One game was a bit of an offensive battle, while the other turned out to be a pitching duel. God only knows how today could play out.

With the win yesterday, Elon has now run their winning streak to six in a row and ten of their last twelve. Most of those wins came during the SoCon Tournament where Elon rattled off five wins in a row after dropping their opening round tournament against Furman.

If they had not won the SoCon Tournament I don't think Elon would still be playing this year. Their 32-28 record coming into the NCAA tournament likely would not have been enough. They have a #65 RPI and were 13-18 against the RPI top 100, to go along with their #47 SoS. During the season they played seven games against ACC opponents and amassed a 2-6 record, including a loss to BC (yikes!) and two losses to Wake Forest. They did take down NC St. in early March 24-12; thank God for that field goal in the late innings to secure the W.

Historically, Elon and UVa don't know much about each other. They've only squared off twice in the programs' histories with the last meeting coming in 2007. That was a 10-3 victory for the Hoos, and was the only time O'Connor has seen Elon. The only other matchup came in 1981, a 13-4 drubbing of UVa. Needless to say, the familiarity that was in yesterday's game against Army is certainly not there today.

On the mound, the Phoenix are going to hand the ball to Senior LHP, Spencer Medick. Medick is actually a VA native and likely pretty familiar with Davenport field having gone to Woodberry Forest and starting his college career at Hampden Sydney. Last year he had a 2-3 record and a 3.35 ERA. This year, he has been roughed up a little bit more. In 11 starts and 16 appearances he's put together a 7-6 record to go along with a 5.09 ERA. He does have 71 Ks in 86.2 innings, but has given up 107 hits, 21 walks, and 6 home runs (most on the team) in those innings. All those numbers put together has lead to a .306 opponent's batting average against Medick, not exactly intimidating numbers.

The Phoenix make their bread and butter at the plate, though. They have put together a .288 team batting average and hit 40 home runs. As Karl Kuhn loves to say, "Home Runs lead to strikeouts," and boy do they. Elon has 450 Ks on the season which puts them at #8 in the country (UVa has 309 on the season).

If Silverstein and Co. are going to keep the Elon offense at bay, the one player to keep in check, without a doubt, is Junior Ryan Kinsella. Kinsella has put together a stellar power season and ranks in the top ten in the country in HRs (20), RBI (76), and slugging percentage (.669). That's half of Elon's home runs. Now, I don't know how big Elon's stadium is, but I am willing to bet that it is not as cavernous as Davenport Field. He might be on a little bit of cold streak though, last night he went 0-5 with a strikeout in the victory.

I've doubted UVa and the pitching staff in the past, but I am a believer now. I think Silverstein sets the tone again and turns in another great start, similar to his start last week in the ACC tournament. Elon's pitcher won't be nearly as dominant as Army's was yesterday which allows the bats to break through. My prediction: Hoos win by 3+ and wait to see who they get to play Sunday afternoon.