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Weekend Watch - Miami

Posted on April 11, 2019, in Baseball by Karl Hess.

It's going to be a big sports weekend in Charlottesville. Everyone will have the hoops celebration at Scott Stadium on their mind. But the baseball Hoos have a crucial ACC home series against Miami on tap as well. This is probably the biggest series of the season to date. If the Hoos want to announce their presence on the NCAA Tournament radar, this is the weekend to start.

Team Records

Virginia: 21-13 (Overall), 8-7 (ACC)

Miami: 22-12 (Overall), 7-8 (ACC)

Game Schedule

Friday: 6:00 PM

Saturday: 4:00 PM

Sunday: 1:00 PM

ACC Baseball Update

The top twelve teams qualify for the ACC Tournament.

Atlantic ACC Overall
NC State 12-3 29-5
Clemson 11-4 25-8
Louisville 10-5 25-8
Florida State 7-8 19-13
Wake Forest 7-8 19-15
Notre Dame 7-8 12-19
Boston College 6-9 17-17
Coastal ACC Overall
Georgia Tech 9-6 22-11
North Carolina 8-7 25-9
Virginia 8-7 21-13
Miami 7-8 22-12
Duke 6-9 18-15
Virginia Tech 5-10 20-14
Pitt 2-13 9-22

The Hoos have a chance to solidify themselves as a contender in the Coastal against Miami.

Here's the rest of the ACC schedule this weekend.

Clemson at Florida State

Wake Forest at Pitt

Georgia Tech at Boston College

Virginia Tech at Duke

North Carolina at Notre Dame

Louisville at NC State

Projected Starting Pitchers

Friday - UVA: RHP Noah Murdock (2-2, 4.40 ERA, 47.0 IP, 16 walks, 47 strikeouts) vs Miami: RHP Evan McKendry (5-1, 3.91 ERA, 48.1 IP, 13 walks, 61 strikeouts)

The junior righty for Miami was All-ACC Third team last season and earned three ACC Pitcher of the Week honors. It's not surprising as he posted a 3.52 ERA, struck out 114, and allowed batters to hit only .239. 

McKendry may be 5-1 on the season, versus 7-6 last year, but his numbers aren't quite as good. You can see that in the slight uptick in ERA and his .254 batting average allowed. Don't be fooled though, McKendry is still a high quality pitcher.

Last season in Miami, McKendry dominated the Hoos in Saturday's contest. Miami won that game 1 to 0. McKendry went 7.0 innings where he gave up no runs, walked 3, allowed 3 hits, hit 1, and struck out 12.

Saturday - UVA: RHP Griff McGarry (2-4, 4.34 ERA, 37.1 IP, 38 walks, 44 strikeouts) vs Miami: RHP Chris McMahon (2-2, 4.53 ERA, 43.2 IP, 20 walks, 49 strikeouts)

McMahon is a sophomore righty from Pennsylvania. As a freshman he made only 6 appearances with 4 being starts. McMahon missed the first month of his freshman year due to offseason meniscus surgery. In those 6 appearances, McMahon posted a 4.44 ERA in 26.1 IP. He allowed 9 walks and struck 18. Batters hit .248 against him.

This will be McMahon's debut against the Wahoos.

Sunday - UVA: RHP Mike Vasil (1-3, 4.95 ERA, 40.0 IP, 14 walks, 29 strikeouts) vs Miami: RHP Brian Van Belle (4-2, 3.59 ERA, 42.2 IP, 10 walks, 47 strikeouts)

Van Belle is a JUCO transfer in his first season at Miami. He attended Broward College where he missed the first two of his three years there due to injury.

Like McKendry and McMahon, Van Belle has struggled in ACC play. His record is 2-1 in 5 conference starts. But he's allowed batters to hit .283 while posting an ERA of 5.26.

This is also his pitching debut versus UVA.

Weather Watch (Courtesy of Weather.com)

I'll be surprised if the schedule holds this weekend.

Rain is in the forecast for most of Friday. At game time, there's a 75% chance of rain and thunderstorms. Temps will be in the upper 60s. Winds will be about 10 MPH.

On Saturday, things look better in the early afternoon. With the game scheduled for 4:00, things should be okay at the start. The forecast calls for cloudy skies with a 10% chance of precipitation. By 7:00 PM, however, the forecast calls for scattered thunderstorms and there's a 50% chance of precipitation. Temps will be in the lower to mid 70s. Winds will be about 5 MPH.

The forecast for Sunday calls for AM showers but just partly cloudy in the afternoon. Temps should be in the mid to upper 60s. Winds will be about 10 MPH.

Media Coverage

ACC Network Extra will have streaming for each game. As always, ESPN's streaming platforms carry ACC Network Extra.

The Friday and Sunday game will also be broadcast over the air on WINA. VirginiaSports.com will also stream the audio of those broadcasts.

Hurricanes To Watch

If I'm a UVA pitcher or Coach Kuhn, there are two Hurricanes that are keeping me up at night. One is a slugger and the other is a speedster.

First, we'll check out the slugger. Sophomore 1B Alex Toral leads Miami with 14 homers on the season. That puts him in the top 5 nationally. UVA has faced two other players in the top 5 this season in Vandy's JJ Bleday and Georgia Tech's Kyle McCann. Both of those players wore out UVA pitching. The staff will be challenged when dealing with Toral. The good news is that Toral isn't the overall hitter that Bleday and McCann are. He's batting only .252 with a .389 on base percentage. He's also tied for the team lead with 39 strikeouts in only 119 at bats.

The speedster is freshman outfielder Jordan Lala. Listed at 5-10 and 175 pounds, it's no surprise that Lala does his damage on the base paths. He's in the top 50 nationally with 16 stolen bases in 18 attempts. Lala also leads Miami in runs scored (38), on base percentage (.465), and walks (30). He's also tied for the team lead in being hit by pitch (5). Given the staff's struggles with issuing walks, 4.97 per 9 innings (214th out of 300 in D1), the Hoos figure to see Lala on base a lot this weekend.

Prediction

This is probably the most difficult series to predict the winner of so far this season. 

Separated by only a game in the standings, both teams need the series win for conference standing jockeying. It's also an important series win for both teams in their pursuit of postseason play.

I started off leaning towards Miami but digging deeper has me feeling positive about the Hoos' chances. The usual pitching caveats still apply. But...

UVA wins 2 to 1

This article contains the tags:

Baseball, 2019, Miami