The Cavaliers take to the road for the first time this year and open ACC play a little earlier than normal (thanks, COVID!) as they head to Chapel Hill to take on perennial top team, North Carolina.
Currently outside the D1Baseball Top 25, The Tar Heels swept James Madison last weekend and were able to beat Elon 4-1 Tuesday afternoon to maintain their perfect record on the season. Originally scheduled to play Kentucky in the opening weekend, COVID protocols forced the two teams to cancel and for UNC to scramble to find the replacement Dukes to come to Chapel Hill for a three game set.
The Hoos didn’t get to play UNC last year, so this will be the first time the two have met since the 2019 ACC Tournament that saw UNC outlast UVA in 10 innings, 3-2.
UVA is also riding a three game losing streak to the Heels dating back to April 2019, but all three losses came by one run. The Hoos will also look to end a series losing streak against UNC that dates back to 2016.
Through four games, the Heels’ staff has put up an impressive 1.25 ERA, a .833 WHIP, and have held opponents to a .147 batting average against. Friday night starter, Austin Love, was able to overpower JMU last weekend with his fastball and held the Dukes hitless through six innings. UVA has been historically good against fastball-reliant pitchers, but the scouting report says Love has a good changeup as well. He’ll have to rely on that to keep the strong UVA lineup off balance. Max Carlson and Max Alba (seriously, two Maxs [Maxii?]) round out the UNC rotation and both recorded decent outings against JMU last weekend with Carlson giving up two earned runs on 3 hits and a walk in 6.2 innings and Alba limiting JMU to two earned runs on four hits and a walk in five innings.
Transfer outfielder Justice Thompson has been lights out in his first few outings with UNC batting .467 with two doubles and a home run over the first four games, but catcher/outfielder and three-hole hitter Caleb Roberts is the one to keep an eye on as if he goes, the Tar Heel lineup will also go. As a whole, the lineup has only batted .270 thus far against pitching less heralded than UVA’s staff. They have struck out nearly nine times per game, but also average nearly six walks per game, so if the UVA staff is near the plate, they should be successful.
UVA’s 3-1 start has been noticed by many already. UConn was a great early season test for the team, and though they dropped Saturday’s game, they passed it well. They should be able to continue that streak this weekend against a UNC team that is still down from their recent past.
All three games will be on the ACCNX, while Thursday and Friday’s games will be over the radio on WINA.