October 30, 2020

Independent analysis and commentary on UVA athletics

Midweek Games – William & Mary

Virginia’s epic homestand continues on Tuesday afternoon with a visitor from Williamsburg. 

After taking three of four from Bucknell, a series in which the offense exploded for 10.5 runs per game, the Hoos (5-3) look to push their winning streak to two games. The Tribe from William & Mary (3-4) will certainly have other ideas.

Game Schedule

Tuesday, February 25 – 3:00 PM

Series History

The Hoos and Tribe first played on the diamond in 1902. The programs have played every season since 1968 except for in 1996 and 2006. UVA currently leads the series 77-31-2.

Tuesday afternoon’s game with be the ninth consecutive contest at UVA. The Hoos last made the trip down 64 East to Williamsburg in 2014.

Under Coach O’Connor, UVA has a 16-3 advantage.

The Tribe are currently riding a one game win streak in the series. William and Mary defeated UVA 9 to 3 last season on February 26, 2019. The Tribe scored 7 runs across the 3rd and 4th innings to take control of that game.

Projected Starting Pitchers

UVA: RHP Zach Messinger (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 6.0 IP, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts)

Messinger’s sophomore season is off to a notable start. He made a standout relief appearance in UVA’s second game of the year against Oklahoma. Then he followed it with 3.2 innings of scoreless baseball as the starter in the home opener against VMI last week. 

If you wanted to be overly critical, you may point to the 4 hits allowed against the Keydets. But 4 strikeouts in 3.2 innings, against only 1 walk, should alleviate those concerns. That’s especially true when you consider that Messinger didn’t give up any hits to the Sooners in 2.1 innings of relief. 

Because UVA played 4 games over the weekend, including a Saturday doubleheader, the Hoos got deep into their bullpen. The goal for Messinger against William & Mary, therefore, should be delivering something as close to a quality start (6.0 IP and 3 earned runs or less) as possible. I’m sure the coaching staff wants to stretch out Messinger sooner rather than later and this would be a good time to start working in that direction.

Also of note, Messinger pitched in last season’s contest against the Tribe. He threw 1.0 innings of relief where he gave up 1 hit and 3 runs (all unearned), walked 2, and struck out 1.

William & Mary: RHP Nick Butts (0-0, 12.00 ERA, 3.0 IP, 4 walks, 1 strikeout)

The redshirt senior from Chesterfield will be the Tribe’s nominal starter. Expect William & Mary to go to the bullpen early and often as is customary for midweek opponents unless, or until, they find a pitcher that gets into a groove on the mound.

Butts has 34 career appearances on the mound. He’s made 2 of those 34 this season. Of the 34, 9 appearances were starts. This will be his first start in 2020 as each prior appearance was in relief.

Last season, Butts made 3 starts out of 14 total total appearances. He amassed a 3-1 record and 4.64 ERA in 33.0 innings pitched. In those 33.0 innings, Butts walked 21 and struck out 23. He also threw 3 wild pitches and hit 6 batters. Opposing batters hit .210 against Butts in 2019.

Thus far in 2020, opposing batters are hitting .273 against Butts.

Butts did not appear in the 2019 contest between the teams. But he did pitch 3.0 innings of relief against UVA in 2018. Butts allowed 3 hits and 1 run (unearned) in those 3.0 innings. He walked none and struck out 3 as well.

One thing to watch with Butts, who D1 Baseball describes as a three-pitch pitcher with good command and movement anchored by a changeup, is that he’s similar in stature to VMI freshman lefty Trey Morgan who absolutely befuddled UVA’s batting lineup for 4.0 innings.

Weather Watch

It’s going to be a wet morning in Charlottesville but we should have baseball to watch on Tuesday as long as the tarp was put on the field in advance. Once you reach 10:00 AM, the chance of rain drops dramatically. By first pitch at 3:00, there’s only a 10% chance of precipitation. It drops further during the game to 5%.

Wind will not be a factor during the game.

And temps will be in the upper 50s throughout.

Media Coverage

Live video streaming is available via ACC Network Xtra. This streaming is found on ESPN’s streaming platforms.

The audio broadcast can also be found via VirginiaSports.com (Baseball section, Schedule page).

Tribe To Watch

Senior OF Brandon Raquet is the guy to watch for William & Mary. Raquet won Third Team All-CAA honors last season. And he was picked as a member of the First Team All-CAA Preseason team by league coaches.

So far in 2020, Raquet is living up to the billing of a dangerous offensive threat. 

He’ll arrive in Charlottesville with a slash line of .346 / .452 / .846. That works out to an OPS of 1.298. Any OPS above .900 is considered to be in the upper echelon of hitters in a particular league.

It’s no surprise that Raquet leads the Tribe in several offensive categories: runs scored (10), hits (9), triples (3), home runs (2), RBI (8, tied), total bases (22), slugging percentage (.846), and strikeouts (11).

Prediction

William & Mary has won 2 of the last 4 in the series including the game last season. UVA’s last win, in 2018, was a one run victory in 11 innings. The Hoos won that game 4 to 3 but had to comeback in the bottom of the 11th despite six pitchers combining for a no hitter.

In other words, do not be surprised if this game is more competitive than expected.

William & Mary was picked to finish 5th in the CAA by league coaches.

If the Hoos are to have the type of season everyone wants, this needs to be a W. UVA should have an advantage on the mound. That will ultimately make the difference. Expect another contested game that reaches the later innings with the outcome still in doubt.

Despite being a nail-biter, UVA wins!

 

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As we prepare for the new basketball season, let’s appreciate the work of our heroes, anticipate their artistry in 2020-21, and at the same time, hear their Voices.

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