The end of the 2022 baseball regular season has arrived for the Virginia Cavaliers. They’ll travel this weekend to Louisville to take on the Cardinals in arguably the top series in the country.
Louisville enters the weekend with a 36-15-1 record, 16-10-1 in the ACC, ranked No. 10 by D1Baseball, and tied with Notre Dame for the ACC Atlantic lead, but lost their series last weekend against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
They’re a well balanced team as evidenced by their record, but have batted nearly .300 as a team in ACC play with a .886 OPS. Junior Dalton Rushing is batting just under .300 with a .295 average, but features a 1.111 OPS thanks to 17 extra base hits including 11 HR and 30 RBI (both lead the Cardinals).
Though not as dominant on the mound as they are on the plate, they have 5.93 team ERA and 1.63 WHIP in ACC play allowing opponents to bat .276 off of them. It’s unclear who will take the bump for Louisville this weekend with the series starting on Thursday and the ACC Tournament starting next Tuesday, but ace Jared Poland will likely start one of the games for the Cardinals. The senior righthander has a 3.38 ERA and 3-2 record in ACC play. Last weekend against the Hokies he held Virginia Tech to just one run on 6 hits and 2 walks in 6.1 innings.
While the series is big based purely off the rankings of both the Cavaliers and the Cardinals, and both have easily secured their spots in the NCAA Tournament, the series has bigger implications in the upcoming ACC and NCAA Tournaments.
As mentioned above, Louisville is tied with Notre Dame in the ACC Atlantic standings, but is behind the Irish in the win% column 0.625 to 0.611. Notre Dame has to travel to Miami to take on the ACC leading Hurricanes, so if Notre Dame loses their series and Louisville wins, the Cardinals would jump the Irish and secure the No. 2 seed in the ACC Tournament.
The same can be said for the Cavaliers who are currently the No. 5 seed for the ACC Tournament. A series win would give UVA a 18-12 regular season record and push them ahead of Louisville in the standings, likely securing at least the No. 4 seed (FSU could end up 18-12 and tiebreakers would have to be invoked).
To make matters even more important, hosting possibilities in the NCAA Tournament will also be in play this weekend. Virginia Tech, Louisville, and Miami are all in the running for National Seeds and hosting at least the first weekend while UVA and Florida State are likely being considered to be a Top 16 seed and regional host. The Cavaliers’ regional hosting aspirations likely ride on this weekend’s outcome, though they could play their way back in with an ACC Tournament title. D1Baseball’s Aaron Fitt said it will all come down to this weekend because if the Hoos can take the series from Louisville, they’ll host.