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Virginia Baseball: Hoos Head to Tallahassee for Top 5 Matchup

The college baseball world will have their eyes focused on Tallahassee this weekend as the #4 Seminoles host the #1 Hoos.

Virginia takes on FSU in a highly anticipated series.
Virginia takes on FSU in a highly anticipated series.

According to three of the four NCAA baseball polls, the Hoos are the #1 team in the country (they are 2nd in the fourth poll). The Seminoles sit between 4 and 6 in all 4 polls. The Noles are 4th in RPI, the Hoos are 8th. FSU is 27-8 on the season and the Hoos are 30-6. These are, clearly, two of the best teams in the nation. Because of that, ESPN will be carrying all 3 games on ESPN3.

The Hoos have won all 7 of their ACC series this season. They also swept the Noles in Charlottesville last year, completing their first ever sweep over FUS. The Hoos then beat FSU again in the ACC Tournament, although due to the peculiar format of the ACC baseball tournament, that game was essentially meaningless. FSU Heisman winning QB Jameis Winston took the loss in that ACC Tourney game.

With the games being played down in Tallhassee this year, a second consecutive sweep seems unlikely. The Hoos do not have a road sweep this year. FSU has 4 home sweeps this year (one of which was only 2 games due to a rainout). The Noles are 29-5 all time against Virginia in Tallahassee, including a sweep in 2012. However, in 2010, the Hoos went to Tallahassee as the #1 team in the nation and took 2 out of 3.

The series figures to be a doozy. FSU is 11th in the nation in scoring, at 7.1 runs per game. The Hoos are 3rd in the nation in ERA, at 2.04. FSU's team ERA is 3.08, and the Hoos score 5.7 runs per game. The Noles are 63rd in the nation in HR/game, the Hoos are 57th. Virginia has the 2nd ranked defense in the country (based on fielding percentage), while FSU is 121st.

The Hoos boast 3 great starting pitchers, with Nate Kirby (8-1, 1.36 ERA) going on Friday, Josh Sborz (4-2, 2.81) on Saturday and Brandon Wadell (5-2, 2.93) on Sunday. The Noles also have 3 good pitchers, with Luke Weaver (6-3, 2.83) going Friday, Mike Compton (3-1, 3.70) on Saturday and Bryant Holtmann (5-0, 3.24) on Sunday. (Winston is still there, he's a relief pitcher and he is 1-0 with a 1.17 ERA on the year.) Holtmann is a lefty, FSU's other two  pitchers are righties. The Hoos go with a lefty on Friday and Sunday.

FSU's most dangerous hitter is OF DJ Stewart, who is batting .359 on the season with 7 HRs and 35 RBI. 1B John Nagowski is also dangerous, at .310 with 4 HRs and 39 RBI. Stewart is a lefty and in fact, 3 of FSU's best hitters are left-handed. That gives the Hoos an advantage with a pair of left-handed starting pitchers.

The Hoos are led, offensively, by Mike Papi, at .296 with 7 HRs and 35 RBI. Brandon Cogswell leads the team with a .301 batting average, but he has just 6 extra base hits (all doubles) on the year. Joe McCarthy has a .298 batting average to go with 4 HRs and a team leading 37 RBI. The Hoos also have Derek Fisher back in the lineup. Fisher entered the season as arguable the best hitter on the team, and a top 15 MLB prospect. He HR'd twice this week after making his return from a broken bone in his wrist this weekend.

The Hoos have struggled at plate for much of this season. They have had a few moments, not the least of which was just this Wednesday when they hit 4 HRs and scored 13 runs against Richmond. They scored just 8 runs last week against UNC, despite taking 2 out of 3 against the Tar Heels. If the Hoos are to win the series this week, the bats are going to need to stay hot.

Of course, another no-hitter from Nathan Kirby would help too.