The Cavaliers have started the season hot, to say the least, having run off 8 straight victories. They’ve been held under 9 runs only once and won all but one of their games by more than two runs. Needless to say, sorry Niagara and La Salle.
UVa has only played three games total against La Salle and Niagara combined, with the most recent game coming last year in Charleston against La Salle, an 8-3 Virginia victory. The two games against Niagara came in 2011 and 2007, both Virginia wins. The 2007 win was a 29-2 shellacking that featured one of the greatest pinch hit appearances in program history, but I digress.
It has been a tale of two weekends for Niagara. They traveled to Baylor to open the season two weeks ago and lost all their games by 4+ runs; including a 21-6 loss on Sunday. However, Niagara was at Norfolk State last weekend and swept the Spartans while only allowing one run all weekend.
The Purple Eagles will be lead by freshman Peter Battaglia. The infielder has started all 6 games for Niagara and recorded multiple hits in 4 of them, accumulating a .381 average. They only have 3 home runs on the season, but feature 17 stolen base attempts already.
It has been a rough beginning to 2017 for the Explorers. They had to replace nearly their entire lineup from last year, and it has shown by starting off 0-7 on the season. La Salle took on East Carolina last weekend in Greenville and managed to keep the games respectable.
While losing 7 straight to start a season is rough, after looking at their team stats, it is easy to see how they have struggled. The Explorers only have one starter with an ERA lower than 3.00, but two are above 7.00. The team as a whole has a 5.74 ERA (UVa has a 3.62 team ERA).
That is bad, but it is just as rough at the plate. A team average of .196 helps to understand how they are only averaging three runs a game. Perhaps most damaging is the .242 slugging percentage. It could be another rough weekend for La Salle.
Like last weekend against Rutgers, Virginia is in a class above these teams. Calling for a sweep of any weekend is difficult, but there should be no reason for the Cavaliers to drop any of the 4 games.