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Virginia Baseball Weekend Preview: Dartmouth

Virginia Baseball vs USC Trojans (Credit David Petkofsky)
Virginia Baseball vs USC Trojans (Credit David Petkofsky)

Winners of five of their last six, the Cavaliers are on a bit of a heater. No, none of those wins have come against particularly quality opponents, but racking up wins in the non-conference before the gauntlet of ACC play is the name of the game.

This weekend, Dartmouth ventures down from the chilly Ivy League to take on the Hoos in Charlottesville. Though the Hoos have played numerous Ivy League teams during the Coach O’Connor era, Dartmouth has only been in Charlottesville once during that time. In 2010, the Hoos beat them twice by a combined score of 25-8. Overall UVa holds a 12-5 record against this weekend’s visitors with the first meeting coming back in 1891!

Dartmouth struggled last year to a record of 15-26 overall and only an 8-13 record in the Ivy League. After losing a lot of talent off last year’s team, the Big Green are not expected to do much this year either.

So far, they’re off to a 2-2 record with wins against Nebraska-Omaha and Chicago State and losses to Indiana State and Chicago State. Their losses are fairly close (3-0 and 1-0) while their wins have come easily (8-1 and 6-2) so if they get the offense going, they tend to compete better.

At the plate they’re lead by Ubaldo Lopez. Though Lopez only hit .254 last season, he’s much improved with a .385 average through 13 at bats including a .615 slugging percentage. As a team, they only have four stolen base attempts, are hitting .262, and are averaging nearly seven strikeouts a game. Keeping them off the bases has been fairly easy for the opposing pitchers thus far, but even on the basepaths, they aren’t putting too much pressure on the opposing defenses.

The three pitchers expected to start for Dartmouth this weekend have put up some impressive numbers though. Justin Murray, Austen Michel, and Nathan Skinner have combined to give up just two runs over 17.2 innings, including seven innings of shutout baseball from Murray. The staff as a whole has a 1.85 ERA and is limiting opposing teams to just a .186 average while striking out nearly 8 batters per game.

Like the Hoos, Dartmouth hasn’t played the most difficult schedule recently. It will be interesting to see if the Big Green’s pitching numbers are a product of that schedule or if they are the real deal and can limit the Hoos’ offense which has averaged 11 runs a game over the last week.

Winning all three this weekend is crucial for UVa. ACC play starts next weekend against NC State and piling up wins is a must if the Hoos hope to get back to the NCAA Tournament.