The Cavaliers will return to the diamond this weekend after falling to William and Mary on Tuesday 9-3. Walks again were an issue for the UVa staff issuing 8 over the course of the game, including five from starting pitcher Evan Sperling.
This weekend, the Hoos will host Seton Hall for the first time since 2012. Coach O’Connor has a 5-1 record against the Pirates, with the last game being a 4-1 UVa victory in 2015 in Myrtle Beach. Overall, the two programs have played a number of times with UVa leading the all-time series 34-20-1, dating back to 1982.
Similar to the Cavaliers, the Pirates have stumbled out of the block going 0-5 to begin the season including being swept two weeks ago by Ohio State, but only one of those losses was by more than two runs.
Last season, Seton Hall pushed St. John’s for the Big East title going 13-4 in conference and 30-20-1 overall and losing to St. John’s in the Big East Tournament title game.
This season many expected them to take a step back after losing the team’s four leading hitters and three of their main pitchers.
They do return the reigning Big East pitcher of the year in Ricky DeVito, who gave up only one run in 4 innings in his lone appearance this season. Overall, the Pirates sport a 4.64 ERA and a .245 opponents batting average. They do have 50 strikeouts in 42.2 innings, but also have given up 27 walks and 7 HBP.
At the plate, they are struggling more. Thus far, the Pirates only feature three players who are batting over .225 and have played in more than half of their games. Their most feared hitter is likely sophomore Casey Dana who is currently batting .333 with a double and three RBI. Last season, he hit seven home runs as a freshman, and much is expected of the infielder.
As a team, the Pirates are hitting .175 on the season and are only averaging 3 walks a game. Pitching to the strike zone and not issuing walks will be key for Virginia pitchers.
Limiting free bases is a key tenement of UVa baseball and thus far the staff has struggled to produce those results. Seton Hall appears to want to put the ball in play so pitching to contact will be of utmost importance for the Hoos. If they can do that, they should be able to take the series.