Monday, April 12, 2010

weekend review

Such a big weekend, it's gonna need to be broken down into a couple different pieces. Lax and baseball get their turn in the spotlight today.

Because speaking of the spotlight, the baseball team is back in it. Every poll moved the Hoos up a notch or two, and one puts 'em right back in the #1 spot. Even better, how about this headline: "Virginia Tech Following Virginia's Footsteps."

How cute. And what perfect timing, with that series on deck this coming weekend. Tech's series wins over FSU and Miami give them some legitimacy they lacked, but they're still capable of crashing out and putting up some real stinkers (they split a series with brand-spanking-new D-I school Bryant.) So they have some work to do, and obviously the troubling thing is they're going to want to do it this weekend. It would be a good time for sweeping them, just because.

But our team isn't too shabby either, you know. Both the bats and the pitching shone against one of the top teams in the nation, and certainly one of the best-hitting:

- The offense just hammered GT's pitching. The Jackets' ace Deck McGuire fell apart in the seventh trying to protect a one-run lead. Saturday starter Brandon Cumpton faced five batters and walked four of them before being yanked having not retired a single hitter. All in all 23 UVA runs crossed the plate over the weekend.

- In turn, our own pitching was mostly great. GT's fearsome bats only really touched up one of our pitchers. Danny Hultzen had a little bit of an un-Danny-like outing, but most pitchers don't actually hold GT to four runs like that. Morey got bombed, though. But two performances stand out: Cody Winiarski, who did his little trick of making sure all the hits come in different innings; and Branden Kline, who pitched four very nice innings in relief of Morey, giving up just three hits.

- The pitching caveat is that O'Connor really shortened up the bullpen this week. Only three pitchers trotted out of there: Kline, and Tyler Wilson and Kevin Arico in games 1 and 3. With a 9-1 lead on Sunday, it might not have been the worst idea to give Shane Halley or Chad O'Connor an inning instead of Arico, but clearly O'Connor has no intention of dicking around against a team that's already bombed 70 home runs on the season. So I get that.

- So VMI this week - likely looking at Will Roberts for the start on Wednesday - then revenge time against the Hokies for winning the series last year and causing VT fans to care about baseball. We can turn off the Hokie give-a-shit meter about this sport by sweeping them out of Davenport.

Speaking of revenge, that's kind of the theme for this coming weekend. This past weekend we had just these colossal titanic matchups of top-five teams; coming up, it's revenge time. The lacrosse team can't ever seem to get past Duke, and this is a great time to start piling on for the seven or so years of tough times against them.

Astute observers will notice that this is the second year in a row that we've seen the lax team go undefeated into the Duke game, and last year it didn't work out so well. I think the team is playing much better this year, though. Much better. They look the part of a championship team, so I've got high hopes for this one. But what about Saturday's game?

- I was especially pleased with the physicality of the play. The team played a very physical game and at the same time managed to stay mostly out of the penalty box, unlike against, say, Syracuse, where we spent half the game a man down. Mostly, but there were exceptions....

- Bray Malphrus, who should be sitting for half or all of the Duke game. Maybe he was retaliating for the equally late and even more purposeful hit on Shamel Bratton earlier in the game, but it doesn't matter. No place for head-to-head hitting like that. I don't wanna hear that lax is a contact sport; that's why he should sit, the game is dangerous enough as it is. You look at what Max Pomper did to Ian Braddish, there's nothing wrong with that. Not late and not aimed at the head; unfortunately for Braddish his ribs didn't feel too good afterwards, but it happens. Head-butting doesn't just happen.

- I think you have to put a little bit of an asterisk next to the defensive performance, considering Billy Bitter missed half the game, their top two goal-scorers missed the entire game, and as I mentioned earlier Carolina isn't a real efficient or accurate team on offense. But you can't use the asterisk for Adam Ghitelman. Good Adam showed up to play and left Bad Adam in College Park where he belongs, and the reward was an ACC POTW nod. Whenever Good Adam is in net, this team is nigh-unstoppable.

- No complaints about the offense, either. OK, they looked kind of bad at times, but we won't see a better defensive team than Carolina all year, and their goalie isn't too shabby either.

So yeah, Duke next week. Oh, and might I point out that in this week's USILA rankings, ACC teams occupy four of the top five spots, now that Duke vaults over Princeton after the latter's faceplant in the Big City Classic nightcap. Pretty good for a four-team league. Syracuse is the only interloper, and yeah, they've lost to us too.

Tomorrow, I finally say something about spring football practice (now that it's over of course) and on Wednesday, FOV goes all fashion critic on you and gives the new uniforms the ol' once-over.

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