As a twelve game homestand ends, a four game road trip begins with a visit to Lynchburg to take on the Liberty Flames. After dropping two in a row to Duke, the Hoos will be hungry for a victory before their ACC road opener at Georgia Tech this weekend. Liberty, however, will have plans for collecting an ACC pelt.
Former Hoo Tyler Cannon is in his third season as an assistant with Liberty.
Virginia: 8-7 (Overall), 1-2 (ACC)
Liberty: 11-4 (Overall), 0-0 (Atlantic Sun)
Wednesday, March 13 - 3:00 PM
Projected Starting Pitchers
UVA: RHP Zach Messinger (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 4.2 IP, 6 walks, 6 strikeouts)
The true freshman from Indiana gets a second opportunity to start after he didn't make it out of the first inning last week against Wagner. Messinger's first career start was immediately made more difficult than necessary when Cameron Simmons dropped an easy fly ball in center from Wagner's leadoff batter. It was downhill from there yet Messinger still managed to give up no earned runs. He'll look for a better beginning in his encore act against a more difficult assignment.
Liberty: LHP Mason Meyer (1-2, 8.44 ERA, 16.0 IP, 8 walks, 9 strikeouts)
Meyer, a sophomore JUCO transfer from Central Alabama Community College, will make his fifth start of the season for the Flames. Last year at Central Alabama, Meyer went 5-1 in thirteen starts. He posted a 2.74 ERA in 75.2 innings.
This season at Liberty, Meyer has made starts against South Carolina, Wake Forest, Tennessee, and Virginia Tech.
His most recent start was last week against the Hokies. Liberty won the game in Lynchburg 4-3. Against the Hokies, Meyer wasn't part of the decision. He pitched 3.0 innings giving up 3 runs, all of them earned. In those three innings, Meyer also gave up 4 hits, walked 1, struck out 2, and threw 1 wild pitch.
On the season, batters are hitting .270 against Meyer.
Weather Watch (Courtesy of Weather.com)
It will be a welcome change of pace from Mother Nature. There will be no frozen fields or rain storms to avoid. Instead, the Hoos will encounter no chance of rain and temps in the upper 50s at first pitch.
Video streaming is available via the ESPN + subscription package. This is a different ESPN streaming service than the free ACC Network Extra that typically provides video streaming through ESPN.
Free audio streaming is available at VirginiaSports.com through the baseball schedule page.
Flame To Watch
Will Wagner of Crozet gets the spotlight for Liberty. The son of MLB great Billy Wagner starts at second for the Flames. He's the only Liberty player batting above .300 on the season as he leads the team at .423.
Against Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Tennessee, and South Carolina, Wagner batted 11-24 (.458) with 4 walks, 4 runs, and 4 RBI.
The Hoos defeated Liberty 14-3 last season in Charlottesville. It was the ninth consecutive win in the series for UVA.
Liberty's last win in the series came in 2012 by a 8-0 score. The Hoos only had two hits in that contest.
Playing in their first season as members of the Atlantic Sun Conference, Liberty was picked third in the conference preseason poll behind Stetson and Jacksonville. With wins over Virginia Tech and Wake Forest to their credit already, the Flames will not be intimidated by a visit to Lynchburg from UVA.
Despite having an offense that won't intimidate (.237 team batting average, 5 total home runs), Liberty does have a plus 29 run differential on the season. The Flames have won 6 of their last 7 including 2 of 3 at South Florida over the weekend.
The Hoos, on the other hand, are coming off back to back defeats at home against Duke in the ACC series opener.
UVA can win this game but it must not make the type of mistakes that led to defeats against Duke: walks, errors, and poor at bats with runners on base.
The Hoos figure to score enough runs against Meyer to win but will the cast of midweek pitchers prevent enough runs from scoring? That's at the heart of this contest.
History and conventional wisdom say that Coach O'Connor and staff will have the team's attention after the Duke series. They should be sharp and desperate to earn a win. With an important conference road series looming, the coaches figure to prefer giving top bullpen options the day off. And that drives the doubt surrounding the outcome in this one.
It's not pretty at times, and perhaps a little wild, but UVA has enough juice to score a win over Liberty.