Riding high off of an impressive 8-2 midweek victory over Liberty, the Cavaliers will welcome ACC foe Georgia Tech to town this weekend for the final ACC home weekend series of the season.
Historically, like many of UVa's ACC opponents, Georgia Tech holds the head to head record advantage. That 46-68-2 record has taken a big hit in the last ten years thanks to Coach O'Connor who has posted a 20-13-1 record against Danny Hall and the Yellow Jackets since he took over the Hoos.
Last year saw the team split the four matchups with the Georgia Tech winning the series in Atlanta, but the Cavaliers took the most important game in Durham during the ACC tournament, 8-2. Also of note, since O'Connor took over the program, UVa has hosted GT 5 times for a weekend series, and come away victorious three of those times; only losing one home series (2007 was shortened to two games that were split).
This year, as always, many had high hopes for the Yellow Jackets. Although they weren't ranked in the Top 25 in the preseason, they were expected to compete for a spot in the NCAA tournament. To say it has been an up and down year would be an understatement. They've posted a 29-20 record, which includes a 14-13 mark in the ACC, but they've lost and won some headscratchers. They took two of three from UNC, FSU, and Miami, and swept Duke, but also lost their serieses against Pitt, Wake, Maryland, and NC St. Talk about two different teams. It appears Danny Hall knows how to motivate his team when they're playing a high caliber opponent, but if not, it's dicey. Fortunately for the Yellow Jackets, UVa is still ranked #1!
On the mound the Yellow Jackets will be lead by RS Junior Devin Stanton and Freshman Ben Parr who will both be starters featuring sub 3.00 ERAs. Neither will feature a high strikeout count, but they will also avoid walking a lot of batters. GT's pitching philosophy is very similar to UVa's, pitch to contact and avoid the walks. Getting ahead in the count and picking out the right pitch to hit will be key for UVa's offense to keep up what it started on Wednesday against Liberty.
At the plate, Junior Daniel Spingola and Sophomore Matt Gonzalez will be the two to watch. Spingola leads the team with a .327 average and 38 runs scored, while Gonzalez is batting .325 and is only one off the pace for the team lead in RBI with 31. Fortunately, for the the UVa staff, Gonzalez has 41 Ks on the season and has been induced into 4 double plays. The rest of the GT lineup is similar having struck out 327 times over 49 games, an average of almost 7 Ks per game.
This late in the season, it would be hard to predict a sweep for the Cavaliers against such a well established and proud program, but I'm going to roll the dice. It appears that the Hoos' bats might have woken up on Tuesday and the pitching was just as dominant as ever. If both sides live up to the potential we were expecting all season, this could be a nice 3-0 weekend for the Hoos.