ACC baseball play is finally here and the Hoos were rewarded with kicking it off on the road against one of the top teams in the country: North Carolina.
The Heels will enter the weekend with a 10-3 record, but started the season just as hot as UVa, starting off 8-0, including an opening series sweep of Kentucky. They have since dropped a series to Long Beach State and a midweek game to St. John’s, but these Heels are a throwback to the title contenders of a few years ago.
Not many probably realize it, but the Hoos have had the Heels number winning the last four series and 9 of the last 11 matchups between the two. That run includes a series sweep for UVa in Chapel Hill just two years ago.
UNC boasts one of the top pitching staffs in the country. Led by Jr. RHP J.B. Bukauskas, of Ashburn, VA. Bukauskas was a Second Team All-ACC honoree last year but came into this year considered one of the top pitching prospects in the nation, and considered a first round talent for June. Through 3 starts he only has a 1-0 record, but a miniscule 0.45 ERA and a paltry .174 batting average against. He’ll feature a fastball in the mid-90s and a slider that d1baseball calls “above plus,” meaning it’s gross.
The Cavaliers obviously feature a strong staff of their own, but will be up against the best offense they have seen thus far this season. The Heels come in batting .265 as a team and are averaging nearly 6 runs per game. Jr. SS Logan Warmoth hit .337 last year as a sophomore and seems to be having an even better 2017 campaign. He’ll enter the weekend with a .367 average and .592 slugging percentage.
This will be by far the best team the Hoos have faced all season. Unfortunately, it seems they drew the short end of the straw and have to face all the elite ACC teams in 2017. Starting off ACC play on the road is never easy and against a Top 10 opponent might not be fun, but the offense has shown it is more than capable.