After losing three one-run games over the weekend to Clemson, the Hoos' NCAA Tournament aspirations are all but gone for the moment. In order to revive them, the team needs to begin stacking wins in a hurry prior to the ACC Tournament. And even then, they might need to win the whole damn thing.
The first opportunity to add to the win column comes today as VCU visits The Dish for a Tuesday evening affair. This will be a rematch of a game played in Richmond at The Diamond earlier this year. In that game, the Rams had their way with UVA in a lopsided 11 to 3 victory.
With the opportunity for revenge and a win critical for their postseason resume, how will the Hoos respond?
Virginia: 24-20 (Overall), 9-15 (ACC)
VCU: 28-16 (Overall), 11-7 (A-10)
Tuesday - 6 PM
Projected Starting Pitchers
UVA - RHP Kyle Whitten (2-0, 5.40 ERA, 23.1 IP, 16 walks, 25 strikeouts)
Coming into today's start, the freshman has 15 career appearances including 1 start. Whitten started UVA's April 18 game against Liberty. He was solid against the Flames. Whitten gave the Hoos a career high 4.2 innings while allowing only 1 hit and 1 unearned run. He walked 4 and struck out 6, also a career high. Whitten walked the first batter he faced against Liberty but then proceeded to retire the next nine Flames. Since the start against Liberty, Whitten has pitched only 0.1 innings. That came this past Saturday against Clemson. Whitten gave up a hit and struck out 1 in that appearance.
Last time against VCU, Whitten pitched the final 3.0 innings for UVA. During that outing, he gave up 5 hits, 3 runs (earned), and 2 walks. He also struck out 3. VCU held an 8 to 3 lead over UVA when Whitten entered that game.
VCU - RHP Ryan Fox (0-2, 18.69 ERA, 4.1 IP, 6 walks, 2 strikeouts)
The senior right hander is making his second start on the season and his first appearance since VCU's March 14 game against Lafayette. Fox has four total appearances on the season and has not pitched more than 1.1 innings in any outing this year.
A junior college transfer, Fox is in his second season at VCU. Last year, he pitched 0.2 innings in relief against UVA in the team's matchup in Charlottesville. He gave up 2 hits, 1 run (earned), no walks, and struck out 1 in the 9 to 4 UVA win.
VCU and UVA have played 11 consecutive seasons. The series dates back to 1979 and the teams have played 63 times heading into today's matchup. UVA currently has a 41-22 record all time versus VCU including winning 17 of the last 20. VCU has a 1 game winning streak in the series.
Weather Watch (Courtesy of Weather.com)
This evening is the type that makes you wish you could spend all of your time in Charlottesville. At game time, the temperature will be in the lower 80s with sunny skies. There will be a slight breeze and very low humidity. There's no chance of rain during the game either.
There will be live audio streaming of the game on WINA.com today. WINA will also carry the radio broadcast in the Charlottesville area.
There will be no live video streaming, unfortunately.
Rams To Watch
When the two teams played earlier this year, we highlighted Hogan Brown (then the reigning A-10 Co-Rookie of the Week), senior infielder Daane Berezo, sophomore Paul Witt, and junior reliever Mac McCarty. The game was too lopsided for McCarty to make an appearance. The trio of Berezo (3 for 4, 2 runs), Witt (2 for 4, 3 runs, 2 RBI), and Brown (1 for 3, 2 runs) did plenty of damage, however.
Brown is again the A-10 Rookie of the Week, this time on his own. In 22 at bats last week, he reached base 17 times with 12 hits and 5 walks. He also had a streak of reaching base in 10 consecutive at bats while scoring 10 runs for VCU last week. Brown leads the A-10 in batting average at .380 which is also good for 37th nationally.
Berezo and Witt remain dangerous hitters that UVA will have to account for.
Senior outfielder Haiden Lamb is VCU's second leading batter behind Brown with a .327 average. He leads the Rams in stolen bases with 21 in 25 attempts.
The last time these teams played, VCU was in the midst of a 12 game winning streak that eventually reached 14 games. Since beating UVA, VCU's fortunes have plateaued. They're only 11-8 since that game and just lost two of three against Davidson. The Hoos, against much tougher competition in ACC play, have played a little better than .500 ball too going 10-9 since the earlier loss to VCU.
The Rams overwhelmed the Hoos from the start last time, scoring 7 runs in the first two innings.
UVA must avoid another start like that. If they do, they should win this game as long as the pitching and defense remain crisp. The bats have enjoyed enough success lately, including scoring 8 against Clemson on Sunday, to come into the game confident.
With the nine day exam break looming after this game, the Hoos pull out all the stops and pick up a hard-fought win to end their three game losing streak.