At 25-18 overall, 9-12 in the ACC, the Virginia Cavaliers baseball squad travels to Chapel Hill to take on the #15 North Carolina Tar Heels. The ‘Heels, sitting at 31-11, 13-8 in the ACC provide a formidable test in a series the Hoos must win in order to have a shot at the NCAA Tournament. On paper, the two teams seem very evenly matched with UNC ranking 9th in the ACC in batting (UVA is 4th) and 8th in pitching (UVA is 9th). But UNC has racked up significantly more quality wins than Virginia. Despite being swept by Clemson and dropping a series to Georgia Tech, the Tar Heels do have series wins over Miami and a sweep of Duke. It will be tough test for Virginia, but a win could help salvage a disappointing season.
At the plate, there isn’t much that wows you. However, the Heels do enough just to win. At the top of the lineup is second baseman Dyland Enwiller. The senior is batting .316 on the year and is eight for eight on stolen base attempts. Next is freshman Danny Serretti who patrols the middle of the infield and is batting .307. Junior first baseman Michael Busch provides the power with 11 home runs and is batting .298. Coming in behind Busch in the home run department is freshman Aaron Sabato who is tied for second in RBI with Ike Freeman who is chipping in batting at a .304 clip.
On the mound, junior Tyler Baum is set to face the Hoos on Friday. Baum has bounced back well after somewhat of a down year last season and is 7-2 with a 3.49 ERA. He’s not going to overwhelm anyone, but he gets outs and is holding batters to a .253 average on the year. Saturday, the Hoos will square off against Austin Bergner. After being primarily used out of the bullpen in his first two seasons, Bergner is 4-0 on the year, but with a 5.07 ERA. Teams can get to Bergner but he does what he needs to do to keep his team in the game. On Sunday, Will Sandy is the probable starter. He’s susceptible to giving up runs, mostly due to his walks. He has 23 walks in 33.2 innings, but teams are only hitting .250 against him.
The key for the Tar Heels’ staff is their bullpen. They’re going to ask their starters to give them five to six innings when they can bring in a host of relievers to eat up the late innings. Leading the team in ERA is Joey Lancellotti at 2.10 while allowing batters to only hit .190 in 30 innings. Next is Gianluca Dalatri who can be relied on to get a big K. In 32 innings, he’s striking out batters at a rate of 9.8 K/9 innings.
Finally, Austin Love holds down the back of the game. He’ s only got three saves on the year and a 5-3 record, but is effective in his role giving his team a chance to win in the eighth and ninth innings.
Friday’s game is at 6 P.M. while Saturday’s is at 3 P.M. and Sunday’s at 1 P.M. All games will be televised by ACC Network Extra.