Though they are both two of the most storied programs in the ACC over the last two decades, the Virginia Cavaliers and North Carolina Tar Heels both enter this weekend’s matchup in Charlottesville looking for answers and hoping for a series victory.
The Cavaliers are in the midst of a puzzling stretch of baseball. After starting the season on fire, setting the program record for best record to start a season, and rising through the rankings up to No. 2, they’ve lost their last two series against Miami and Pittsburgh, while also losing midweek games to VCU and ODU.
UNC had a similar start to their 2022 campaign getting off to an 18-3 record that included going 5-1 against Duke and Pitt to start the ACC season. Since that start they’ve gone 5-11 and dropped four straight ACC series to total an 8-10 record in conference play.
The 2022 season isn’t over, but it’s getting late early and both of these squads need wins to make sure they’re not on the outside looking in when the NCAA Tournament is announced in a little over a month.
If the Heels are going to make waves down the stretch, they’re going to rely on their offense that has helped them to the 8 wins already. They’re batting .286 in conference play and are averaging 6.5 runs a game against conference foes while also slugging .467 and putting up a .377 on base percentage.
They’ve been lead by redshirt Junior outfielder Angel Zarate who boasts a .379 average in ACC play. Though not leading the team in ACC average, Junior Danny Serretti, Sophomore Mac Horvath, and Sophomore Alberto Osuna will be the true difference makers in the Tar Heel lineup. Horvath and Osuna lead the team with a .571 and .603 slugging percentage in ACC play and have combined for 13 home runs. Serretti meanwhile has a .370 average, 13 RBI, and a .562 slugging in the ACC.
The staff for the Tar Heels have clearly been their downfall. None of their weekend starters has an ERA below 5.40 and they’ve combined for a 6.02 ERA as a staff. Those same weekend starters have only combined to strikeout 64 batters in 60 innings, while walking 39 batters for a 1.75 WHIP. The rest of the staff has not been much better averaging just over a strikeout per inning and totaling a 1.65 WHIP.
UVA needs a series win. That much is clear. Unfortunately, over the last two weeks, neither the offense, nor the pitching staff has been able to overpower their opponents (save an 18-0 win over Pitt last weekend). It’s likely that the Hoos’ staff won’t be able to completely shutdown the Tar Heels’ offense, so it will be up to the UVA offense to set the tone against a below average UNC pitching staff. Expect high scoring affairs and fireworks this weekend in Charlottesville.