Back to the grind Wednesday night with another mid-week contest against an in state opponent. After taking 2 of 3 against the Hokies over the weekend, UVA will continue the Southwest Virginia theme and host the Highlanders from Radford. The Big South's eighth place team will arrive to town with a 12-19 record overall and 4-8 in conference play. Radford does have a one game winning streak.
This game won't provide any RPI help but a win will bump the Hoos' record to 19-14 heading into a weekend series versus UNC.
Wednesday - 6 PM
Projected Starting Pitchers
UVA - RHP Bobby Nicholson (2-1, 1.35 ERA, 26.2 IP, 9 walks, 26 strikeouts)
With Evan Sperling still on the shelf, Nicholson should probably be the Sunday starter for UVA. He's certainly the most logical choice from a talent-performance measure. However, his suspension from the team for the Pitt series caused him to miss a Sunday start. As such, it threw off the entire Sunday and mid-week rotation. Grant Donahue took that start against Pitt while Nicholson was back for the Old Dominion game. In an ideal world, he would have also pitched the weekend finale against Virginia Tech on slightly shorter than usual rest. He only pitched 5.0 innings against ODU, so a Sunday start wasn't out of the question. Coach O'Connor elected to stay with Donahue in the Sunday spot against the Hokies, so here's Nicholson back at it again mid-week.
The good news for UVA is that Nicholson gives the Hoos a tremendous advantage against most of the mid-week opposition, especially the remaining teams on the schedule (Radford, George Washington, Liberty, ODU, VCU, Richmond). The Hoos need all the wins they can get to improve their postseason resume so Nicholson pitching mid-week really solidifies things.
Radford - LHP Andrew Nardi (2-2, 5.55 ERA, 16.1 IP, 16 walks, 14 strikeouts)
The left handed junior will be making his twelfth appearance on the season but his first start. Nardi made nine starts for Radford last season, however. His longest outing to date in 2018 is 4.0 innings which he achieved twice early in the season against Jacksonville State and Maryland. In his last appearance, Nardi pitched 3.1 innings of relief a week ago against East Tennessee State. In the Radford loss, Nardi gave up 4 runs (2 earned), 4 hits, 3 walks, and struck out 3 in those 3.1 innings. Nardi has only surrendered 1 home run on the season, back on March 7 against William & Mary.
This will be Nardi's first pitching appearance against UVA.
This will be the 25th all-time matchup between the Hoos and Highlanders. UVA currently leads the all-time series 19-4-1. This will be the first meeting since 2016, an 11-3 UVA win in which Bennett Sousa was the starting pitcher for UVA. The teams tried to play in 2017, 2015, and 2014 as well but the games were cancelled due to weather. Radford's last win came in 2013, 9-8. UVA trailed 9 to 1 after 2 innings in that game. The Hoos trailed 9 to 4 entering the bottom of the 9th inning and had the winning run on first base when the game ended.
Weather Watch (Courtesy of Weather.com)
It should be a nice night at the ballpark for UVA fans. There's no chance of rain and temps should be in the lower 60s to upper 50s at game time. Skies will be mostly sunny with a moderate breeze blowing.
ACC Network Extra will provide live streaming. The stream is available on your ESPN streaming platform of choice.
Radio coverage will be handled by WINA as usual. They'll be broadcasting the game over the air locally and streaming the call online at WINA.com.
Highlanders To Watch
Redshirt junior Andrew Szamski is the second leading hitter in the Big South with a .387 batting average. He's also tied for second in the league with 16 extra-base hits and seventh in overall hits with 41. With runners on base, Szamski improves his average to .412 (21 for 51). With runners in scoring position, he's hitting .312 (10 for 32). He's also 13th nationally with 4 triples on the season.
Redshirt junior Kyle Butler has 13 multi-hit games for Radford this season. He's tied with Szamski and Spencer Horowitz with five multi-RBI games on the season as well. Butler currently has a six-game hitting streak and a streak of seventeen consecutive games reaching base.
In games they've outhit their opponent, Radford is 10-4 on the season. I would expect Nicholson to keep the Highlanders largely in check. The Hoos certainly have a large advantage at the starting pitcher spot and that should make all the difference in the world. It likely won't be a laugher, but the Hoos pick up the win while continuing to build a little positive momentum.