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UVA Baseball Heads to Miami for Top 10 Showdown

The weekend battle in Coral Gables will go a long way in deciding the ACC Coastal division.

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Tennessee v Virginia Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The Cavaliers will head to Miami this weekend and play in their biggest regular season weekend in nearly a decade (rankings-wise) when they take on the No. 8 Miami Hurricanes.

After making the NCAA Tournament last year for their second appearance in a row, the Canes are seeing a resurgence and return to form that most Miami fans have come to expect. Sitting at 23-6 overall and 10-2 in the ACC, they currently lead the Coastal Division and haven’t dropped a series since losing one in early March to rival Florida. Since that series loss the Hurricanes have only lost three games total going 15-3 in that stretch and are currently on a 10 game winning streak that included series sweeps of North Carolina and Duke.

Sophomore CJ Kayfus has jumped out to an amazing start the first half of the season and leads the Canes in nearly all major categories. He features a .372 average, 32 runs scored, 42 hits, .471 OBP, and has a 1.011 OPS. Though his .540 slugging and three home runs don’t lead the team, they make him one of the most prevalent threats in their lineup. Fellow sophomore Yohandy Morales is building off his freshman All-American season last year and is just behind Kayfus with a .318 average 1.002 OPS, 25 runs scored, a .438 on base percentage, and leads the team with a .564 slugging.

As a team they’re batting .289 with 33 home runs and an .850 OPS. To put even more pressure on teams, the Canes are aggressive on the base paths with 33 stolen base attempts on the season, sliding in safely in 28 of those attempts.

While the pitching staff is not quite as quality as the lineup, the Canes will run out two weekend starters that are more than capable in Carson Palmquist and Karson Ligon. Palmquist is 5-1 with a 3.22 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP, 56 strikeouts in just 36.1 innings pitched, and a .218 batting average against, while Ligon will feature a 4-1 record and a 1.45 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, a .197 batting average against, but just 39 strikeouts in 37.1 innings.

The Hoos will have to have a lead heading into final innings this weekend as Miami features one of the best closers in the nation with Andrew Walters. The right handed sophomore appeared in just 19 games last year, but is already up to 12 this season and has yet to give up an earned run. In those 12 appearances he’s totaled 9 saves, a 0.31 WHIP, a .057 batting average against, and 31 strikeouts in 16.2 innings.

Though the Cavaliers can boast the better postseason resume, the Canes have typically got the better of the regular season matchup over the last few years. Dating back to their March, 2018 matchup, Miami has won nine of the last ten games with UVA’s lone win coming last season in Charlottesville. However, UVA has had success in Coral Gables over the last 12 years with a 9-6 record dating back to 2010 and the lone series loss coming in a Miami sweep in 2018.

The eyes of college baseball will be on Coral Gables. UVA has a chance to make their biggest statement all season and one that could move them to No. 1 in the rankings.