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Davidson Preview

Posted on March 5, 2018, in Baseball by Karl Hess.

The Davidson Wildcats visit The Dish Tuesday afternoon closing out the Hoos ten game home stand. Virginia, 8-4 on the season, is coming off a 2-1 series win over Yale where the Hoos won the Friday and Sunday contests. The Wildcats will arrive in town with an 8-3 record most recently losing two of three at home to Lehigh.

The game against Davidson is the last game before ACC play begins this weekend. The Hoos open ACC play at Duke. They'll want to arrive in Durham with some positive momentum. A convincing win over Davidson would do the trick.

Game Schedule

Tuesday - 1 PM

Projected Starting Pitchers

Virginia - RHP Bobby Nicholson (0-0, 1.42 ERA, 6.1 IP, 0 hits, 5 strikeouts, 4 walks)

Nicholson made his season starting debut last week against William & Mary. Prior to that, he made one relief appearance on the year throwing an inning against Eastern Kentucky on February 24. Nicholson pitched 5.1 innings of no hit baseball against the Tribe in what went down as one of the oddest games in program history. The Hoos captured the walk off win 4 to 3 in 11 innings. Despite giving up three runs and the game lasting eleven innings, six UVA pitchers (Nicholson, Blake Rohm, Grant Donahue, Riley Wilson, Mack Meyer, and Bennett Sousa) combined to throw the program's first no hitter since Nathan Kirby's against Pitt in 2014.

The Davidson game will be Nicholson's third career start. He had a nice game in first career start last season at home against Richmond (5.1 innings of 1 run, 6 hit, 6 strikeout baseball). Only a sophomore, expectations this season are for Nicholson to develop his stuff as a mid-week starter, perhaps the go to mid-week starter, while setting the stage to compete strongly for a weekend rotation spot in 2019.

Davidson - RHP Connor Gordon (2-1, 0.00 ERA, 11.2 IP, 11 strikeouts, 5 walks)

Gordon's two starts on the season are against North Carolina A&T (win) and Wake Forest (win). He also has a loss in one relief appearance against Lafayette giving up three unearned runs in 0.2 innings. The senior's start against Wake is one to watch. The Deacs are struggling a bit this season at 5-7 with some bad losses on their resume, but a mid-week start versus an ACC school is a fair comparison.  Davidson won the February 20 game against Wake 3 to 1. In the contest, Connor allowed no runs and no hits in 6.0 innings pitched, picking up the win. He struck out 4 Demon Deacons and his sixth inning walk was the only baserunner that he allowed.

Familiarity

The Hoos and Wildcats should have a pretty thorough scouting report on each other coming into this matchup. On October 15, the teams got together for an exhibition game at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina. College baseball rules allow programs to play an exhibition against another Division 1 team during Fall Baseball but it counts against the maximum number or regular season games available to schedule. At the time of the game, I searched high and low for info but never could locate any reports out of either program. Unless you were one of those that attended the exhibition in person, it's unlikely you know what happened unless you have a connection to the teams (or play/coach for them, naturally).

Wildcats To Watch

Connor Gordon was covered above. But the Wildcats have a couple batters who deserves equal attention from the Hoos. Last week, junior shortstop Max Bazin hit .529 on the week including three straight multi-hit games. The previous week, junior catcher Eric Jones was Collegiate Baseball's national player of the week. During that week, Jones hit .462 in five games with 3 HR and 17 RBI. For comparison, Caleb Knight leads UVA with 3 HR and 13 RBI, playing in all 12 UVA games to date this season.

Weather Watch (Courtesy of Weather.com)

It's going to be another cold one at The Dish on Tuesday. At game time, the forecast is calling for the temperature to be 42 with a wind chill of 38. There's also a 40% chance of rain during the afternoon. Stay warm Hoo fans!

Media Coverage

ACC Network Extra will have livE streaming again. Find the game on your favorite ESPN streaming platform. There will be no radio streaming of the game.

Prediction

The Hoos last four wins on the season are all by one run. Their last three wins are all comebacks including two walk-off wins. It's going to take a complete performance for the team to win on Tuesday. That means the pitching needs to be on point, the defense needs to be strong, and hitting must be opportunistic. If any of those three elements are off, Davidson has the ability to send UVA into their first conference series with a loss.

Of the three keys, I'm most confident in Bobby Nicholson turning in a winning effort. If Nicholson delivers, the Hoos will win the game once they get into Davidson's bullpen.