The Hoos have returned from Florida and are gearing up for the 2020 season’s home opener. Both Virginia (1-2) and Wednesday’s opponent, VMI (1-2), spent the opening weekend in Florida. Both will be happy to be back in Virginia after dropping their respective series. VMI is looking to play spoiler. And UVA is hoping to get their offense on track.
Wednesday, February 19: 3:00 PM
For the fifth consecutive season, VMI will the opponent for the Hoos in their baseball home opener.
In 2019, UVA easily defeated the Keydets, 9-0.
During Brian O’Connor’s tenure, the teams have played seventeen times. The Hoos hold a 12-5 lead in the series under O’Connor. VMI’s last win over UVA came in the 2018 home opener. The Keydets won that February matchup 9-4.
UVA leads the all-time series 106-32.
Projected Starting Pitchers
UVA: RHP Zach Messinger (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2.1 IP, 0 walks, 6 strikeouts)
Messinger pitched in Saturday’s 7-2 Oklahoma victory. He was the third pitcher used by the Hoos in the game. Messinger entered in relief of freshman Matt Wyatt and stabilized the game for the Hoos’ pitching staff. The Sooners had scored six runs prior to Messinger’s entry. They scored none off Messinger and only one additional run in the game.
In our preview content, we speculated that the staff could use the midweek schedule to groom Messinger for a role as a weekend starter in 2021. He’ll get his first opportunity to put that plan in motion against VMI.
VMI: RHP Ben Capehart (N/A)
This will be Capehart’s collegiate debut. The freshman is from Norfolk, VA where he attended Maury High School. As a senior at Maury, Capehart was 6-1 with a 0.57 ERA. He was the 2019 Eastern District Player of the Year, First Team All-Eastern District, and Second Team All-Region.
According to Perfect Game, Capehart’s fastball topped out at 88 MPH at Perfect Game sponsored events.
Expect the temps to be in the mid-50s at first pitch, holding steady throughout the game. They may dip to the lower 50s in the later innings. Winds will be light throughout the game.
Rain will be the biggest obstacle from Mother Nature. The forecast is calling for showers beginning at 3:00 PM and lasting throughout the evening. The chance for precipitation is only 35% at 3:00 PM, however. It peaks at 45% at 5:00 PM.
Most of Wahoo Nation will get its first look at the baseball team against VMI. Live video streaming will be available on ACCNX (ACC Network Extra), the ACC Network’s streaming platform via Watch ESPN.
The UVA radio broadcast can be found online via the UVA Baseball schedule page in the baseball section of VirginiaSports.com.
Keydet To Watch
Redshirt sophomore outfielder Will Knight was VMI’s best offensive player in the season opening series against North Florida. Knight led the Keydets with six hits on the weekend. Knight picked up VMI’s first triple of the season and has one of VMI’s two stolen bases. Knight is tied for the team lead in RBI with two. He also leads the team in batting average (.462), on base percentage (.462), and slugging percentage (.615).
UVA kicks off a fifteen game homestand with the season opener against VMI.
VMI is the perfect home season opener for the Hoos. They’re always a scrappy bunch that doesn’t know the word quit. For the roster newcomers, it’s the perfect introduction to the effort and mental focused required to win D1 baseball games. You cannot overlook your opponent and win at this level.
At the same time, expectations are low for the Keydets. Southern Conference coaches picked VMI in a tie for seventh in the nine team league with Furman. And SoCon media picked the Keydets to finish eighth.
If the Hoos come out overconfident, and at 1-2 they shouldn’t, they can lose this game. Look no further than the most recent VMI win in 2018.
If Zach Messinger’s relief outing against the Sooners was not a fluke, he should give the UVA offense the room necessary to wake up the bats. With a freshman starting for the Keydets, it’s certainly possible that the Hoos put this game away quickly. That would follow the script from 2019 where UVA jumped VMI early while cruising to a 9-0 victory.
Losing two of three to Oklahoma certainly stung. The UVA players will want to get the bad taste out of their mouths as soon as possible. They’ll come out focused and ready to compete in this one.
UVA wins its home opener by defeating VMI.