OK, I guess it's safe to panic and run around screaming now. If the coaches and players are willing to admit publicly that the hitting is a concern, then I'm pretty sure the Fan Constitution allows us to go completely apeshit. I'm sure that's in there somewhere. Let's commence.
Or maybe there's a corollary that says when you're the #1 team in the country, you don't get to complain. I like that better, in fact. But it's still likely going to be necessary to color our perceptions for a while; in fact, I believe I got a head start on that in predicting a 2-1 series win over UNC instead of a sweep, though I did think Sunday would be much less of an issue.
Brian O'Connor bemoaned lost opportunities on Sunday, such as failing to score with runners at the corners in the first inning. Without a healthy dose of moxie from Josh Sborz, he might've been doing the same on Saturday; you probably lose 19 out of 20 games where you get outhit 10-3. Sborz wasn't stingy in giving out hits, as every Tar Heel in the lineup got one off him. But you talk about scattering hits, and Sborz laid them out almost perfectly so as to escape nearly unscathed..... and then Connor Jones and Nick Howard slammed the door.
It goes to show the value of a good bullpen. That's something that fans never think about until it blows enough leads. Well, consider it thought. Sborz did a nice job wiggling out of his jams, but life is much easier when you don't create any in the first place. Combine all this with Friday's performance from Nathan Kirby, who outdueled UNC's Trent Thornton by fanning 12 hitters and, most importantly and unlike Thornton, not giving up any home runs ... and you have another virtuoso weekend from the moundsmen.
Perhaps one of these days the batsmen will follow suit. The Hoos won two games mainly on the strength of two mistake pitches from the Carolina starters; a flat Thornton fastball that ended up who knows where and a hanging curve from Moss that snuck over the fence in just about the same place. The fun part, though, is this: UVA is the near-consensus #1 team in the country and the #120 team in batting average. Who's going to stop UVA if the pitching stays just as good and the bats fire up?
More baseball in brief:
-- Notre Dame did UVA a big favor yesterday by beating Miami. If it happens again I'd be awfully surprised, but for now the best Miami can do is keep the tie. It gets harder for the Canes next week as they visit Clemson, but UVA has Florida State so it's not like it's any easier for us.
-- The reason UVA is only near-consensus as #1 is because Collegiate Baseball is of the strange opinion that Cal Poly's sweep of Cal State-Fullerton (that's "18-16 Cal State-Fullerton" to you) is more impressive than whatever UVA did. Their previous #1, Louisiana-Lafayette, didn't sweep whatever Sun Belt cupcake they had this week, so they fell to 3rd and UVA stayed at 2nd. Everyone else puts the Hoos up top.
-- Derek Fisher is back! That's excellent because he was hitting .333 before he went down. The guy who moved into the lineup on the regular when that happened, stayed in - that'd be John LaPrise, since he's also hitting over .300.
-- Florida State next week - by far the biggest three games of the remaining regular season.
-- I opted to watch baseball over lacrosse on Saturday; they were at the same time, which is always a conundrum, and I figured I'd better get my chance to watch a halfway decent production of baseball for once. The box score says everything I probably would've said anyway, though. Namely, Ryan Lukacovic still should not be losing minutes to Owen Van Arsdale (1 goal, 1 assist, 1 turnover against goose eggs, 2 TOs, and a penalty... hm.) I'm not gonna lie, when the program announced the hiring of Dom's son as an assistant coach, "Mike Groh" was one of the initial thoughts that popped into my head. Now, Marc Van Arsdale has been a productive offensive coordinator in his time, and OVA has 24 assists so he's definitely had his moments too... but will Dad have the stones to bench his son if he continues to be outplayed?
-- I'm getting awfully fed up with Cavaliers Live. I'm not the only one. This was a much better production two, three years ago. I'm not really jonesing for HD coverage, because I'm mindful that simply being able to watch UVA baseball (and lax, and soccer, and stuff) is a major upgrade from the inaccessibility of past years. Give it time. But I'm also mindful that I'm paying far more than I am for any cable channel and getting the most amateurish production imaginable.
The scorebug looks like it was created by the freshman TV class at the local high school, has less than the bare minimum of useful info, and is sometimes not updated for a full inning, leaving the impression that the visitors are batting in the bottom half. You've got the patented Earthquake-o-Vision from the third-base camera - surely it can be set up anywhere else, because I assume what's happening is that fans are moving around and rattling the stand. Cutting from the side view to the plate view in the middle of the pitch is incredibly disconcerting and would probably get a producer fired at a real cable station. (According to the explanation from the VSTV folks, we can't have a center field view because the coaches don't want the signs broadcasted, and therefore at risk of being stolen. Fine. You still can't see them from behind the plate, and you can still have the guy hitting the button for the switch learn when pitchers are ready to throw, and not wait for the middle of the windup.)
Then of course we have the cardinal sin: chopping off the end of games. It happened during the Loyola game in lacrosse; I suspect because the feed was coming in slower than live, so that when the game ended, fans were watching the middle of the fourth quarter but the production people just shut off the feed and went home. This weekend the feed just cut off before the end of the game. If those were the only two times I'd be surprised, but they're the two I remember. The first time, they promised that, "The error will be corrected to ensure the Cavaliers Live viewing experience meets our production expectations for future webcasts." Uh-huh.
There's one more home baseball series, after which that subscription is coming to a merciful end. Whether I re-subscribe next year depends on the work they put in during the offseason to unfuck the presentation.
-- There are new uniforms in the world of ACC football. Florida State's are fine, more or less, but Syracuse's are A) godawful, B) largely a copy of Boise State's, right down to the unnecessary Trendy Gray**, and C) living proof that college football players would "get hype" about playing in a pink tutu if it was brand new and you presented it with enough I'M-A-WARRIOR flair. Make sure the CG models hold their arms out like their lats are the size of elephants.
**The gray is funny because Syracuse fans already got up in arms over Trendy Gray basketball jerseys a couple years back - remarkably, they didn't really like having their team look just like the one they considered their biggest Big East rival. Georgetown's school colors are gray and blue. Let's hope Trendy Maroon is never a thing.
-- It was announced today that UVA will play a basketball home-and-home with George Washington, which is just exactly the kind of team we should be scheduling home-and-home. You can play 28 games, so, ACC teams get 10 non-conference ones, and a tournament of up to four can count as one. In my ideal world no more than six of these 10 would be cupcakes. The other four would be the yearly tournament, the B1G Challenge, and two teams from conferences like the SEC, A-10, Big East, etc.