Thursday, March 24, 2011

series preview: Maryland

Date/Time: March 25-27; 6:00/1:00/1:00

TV: UVA webcast only

History against the Terps: 101-76

Last matchup: UVA sweep (5-1, 27-4, 11-2); 4/16/10 - 4/18/10; College Park

Last game: UVA 5, Towson 0 (3/23); Md. 8, GWU 2 (3/22)

Last weekend: UVA 2-1 over FSU; BC 2-1 over Md.

National rankings:

Baseball America: UVA #3; Md. unranked
Collegiate Baseball: UVA #3; Md. unranked
NCBWA: UVA #3; Md. unranked
Perfect Game: UVA #3; Md. unranked
Coaches: UVA #3; Md. unranked

Opposing blogs: no baseball-inclined ones

So, Maryland has been godawful at baseball. This year, probably less so. Second-year coach Erik Bakich is working on fixing the laughingstockitude that was Maryland baseball and has them taking steps from being the laugher of the East Coast to merely bad. This is bad for my ability to write jokes about Maryland but good for the ACC in general when the bad teams aren't pitching-free zones. More improvement may or may not be on tap for the future, but for now Maryland is still an extreme longshot to be eligible for any kind of postseason play. Thus, anything less than a sweep would be disappointing.


- Roll out the lefties. Southpaws, they haz none. The only left-handed pitcher on Maryland that we're ever likely to see on the hill is Sunday starter Eric Potter. The left-handed batters in our lineup mostly aren't full-time regulars, but they've seen their share of at-bats. Keith Werman is the only really everyday lefty, but David Coleman, Danny the Destroyer, and Reed Gragnani all bat from that side of the plate too. Along with possibly Ryan Levine, they'll see plenty of plate appearances to take advantage of the fact that pretty much everyone the Terps trot out from the bullpen will be right-handed.

- Dominate on Friday. Maryland's pen isn't half bad, but it's shallow. Much shallower than ours, at any rate. It can be taken advantage of. Brian O'Connor is a master of pitching staff usage, but his job there can be cake and a half this week if his job is made that much easier by his hitters burning through Maryland pitchers on the first day of the series. Danny will strike out 13 batters, of course, so if the batters can open up a can on Sander Beck (the likely Friday starter) and then open up a can on his relief, we can turn to someone who might normally be a weekday guy and save the bigger guns for the later games, and let them pitch against a bullpen that's wearing thin quickly.

**By "win" I mean sweep. Can't afford to give up a game against the Marylands of the world, especially since we don't get a series against Wake.


- Let a pitchers' duel break out. Any one of the games could be. Sander Beck held Georgia Tech(!) to one lousy run, David Carroll held Texas(!!) to one lousy run, and I actually think it's Eric Potter who's pitching the best of the three. His .181 opponents' BA has a lot to do with it. Not that our own pitchers can't hold up in a pitcher's duel, of course. They're still better. But Maryland's best hope for stealing a game in any of their series is in a pitchers' duel. They don't have the lineup horses to win anything 10-8. They've hit double digits once this year: against Liberty, whom they'd lost to the day before.


Seriously, if we lose even one it'll be a big disappointment. GT swept 'em, FSU will probably sweep 'em, Clemson will probably sweep 'em. Win them all, or else have to try and earn the tournament 1 seed the hard way. Fortunately, a sweep is exactly what I see with my magic 8-ball. Maryland scores no more than eight runs all weekend, strikes out at least 10 times against Hurricane Danny, and UVA is 8-1 with an excellent chance to return to at least a tie atop the division standings, what with Miami hosting Georgia Tech this weekend.

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