The Virginia Cavaliers remain one of three college baseball teams (Alabama and NC State) that have yet to receive their first loss. This past weekend they slugged past Rhode Island, scoring double digit runs in each game, including a 13-0 victory in the second game of Saturday’s double-header. The ‘Hoos followed that up with a 7-3 win over a pesky William & Mary squad.
Here are four takeaways from another undefeated week of UVA baseball:
The bullpen has risen to the occasion
Pitching was perceived as Virginia’s weakness heading into the season. Considering how much they struggled last year, and the amount of production that did not return, there were a lot of unknowns.
Three weeks into the season, however, Virginia boasts a conference-leading 3.93 earned run average and it’s been the bullpen that has especially stood out. These past four games, relievers have allowed just two earned runs in over 14 innings pitched, while striking out 20 and walking just three.
Jake Berry has been a workhorse, already accumulating 10.2 innings and having yet to allow a run. After an up and down college season, Berry has carried his impressive Cape Cod League performance into the following spring.
Also keep an eye out for Kevin Jaxel, one of several freshmen that have thrived. He followed up a scoreless frame over the weekend with another hold against William and Mary. Jaxel has a nasty curveball, which will be even more effective when he continues to establish his command.
Don’t count out Brian Edgington when considering UVA’s strikeout pitchers
Edgington, a second team all-CAA selection last season at Elon, had the reputation of being a ground ball pitcher. He tends to work the lower third of the plate and force weak contact, while maybe not putting up quite the same strikeout numbers as fellow UVA starter Nick Parker.
This Saturday, however, he showed his ability to dominate a game. Edgington tossed six scoreless frames, allowing just three hits and striking out ten. I would consider him the most reliable arm on the staff.
There is not a single hole in this batting order
Pitchers often will be able to throw around certain hitters in the lineup, while being able to more aggressively attack others. That is absolutely not the case with Virginia; they can hurt you nine deep. Walk Jake Gelof and you have Kyle Teel and Ethan Anderson that will drive him in.
Every starter has an on base percentage of at least .350, including Henry Godbout and Ethan O’Donnell, who are well over .500.
With an embarrassment of riches, we have yet to even see the full bag of tricks
Travis Reifsnider transferred from JMU to UVA after leading the CAA in slugging percentage and earning a first-team all conference selection. Coach Brian O’Connor can barely find at bats for him because the lineup is so deep. Reifsnider has started just one game and has been mostly used as a pinch hitter. I find it hard to believe his role won’t increase as the season progresses.
First off, his track record speaks for itself. Secondly, Reifsnider has the versatility to play outfield (he has logged many starts in center) and behind the dish. But, as of right now, Virginia is thriving, even without significant contributions from him.
The Cavaliers’ first conference series lies ahead this weekend and it will be a true test. North Carolina ranks three spots in front of Virginia in D1Baseball’s latest poll at #14.
In the lineup, keep an eye out for Vance Honeycutt, a do-it-all superstar centerfielder, as well as the slugger, Mac Horvath. On the mound, the Tar Heels feature a trio of capable starters, led by Max Carlson, who recently had a dominant seven inning outing against East Carolina.