So close, yet so far away appears destined to be the theme for UVA baseball in 2019. The Hoos lost 2 of 3 at North Carolina this past weekend. But they had ample opportunities to return to Charlottesville with a sweep over the Tarheels. Instead, it goes into the book as the third consecutive ACC series loss.
There's little time to sit around and sulk, however. The annual trip to Richmond to play VCU at The Diamond is on tap for Tuesday night. The last game prior to the exam break figures to see the Hoos hold nothing back as they'll want to enter exams on a high note.
Virginia: 26-20 (Overall), 10-14 (ACC)
VCU: 30-14 (Overall), 13-5 (Atlantic 10)
Tuesday, April 30 - 7:00 PM
Projected Starting Pitchers
Freshman lefty Billy Price is the odds on favorite here. That he wasn't named the starter outright does leave some room for doubt, however. Even if Price gets the nod, he'll likely have a short leash with a staff day waiting in the wings.
VCU: RHP Connor Gillispie (3-0, 1.76 ERA, 61.1 IP, 15 walks, 85 strikeouts)
If you looked at Gillispie's numbers and thought to yourself that they looked pretty good for a midweek starter, you can pat yourself on the back. This game is obviously important to VCU as Gillispie is one of the Rams' weekend starters. He got the ball the last two Fridays for VCU against conference foes George Washington and Richmond.
The junior right hander likely has a bit of a chip on his shoulder heading into this matchup. He's an Earlysville native that attended The Miller School before enrolling at VCU.
Last season, Gillispie made 18 appearances, all of which were starts. He posted a 7-3 record as a sophomore while pitching 73.2 innings. Gillispie posted a 2.57 ERA while striking out 97 and walking only 20.
Last season he did not pitch in the two matchups between UVA and VCU. But he did make a relief appearance as a freshman against the Hoos in the matchup played at Davenport Field. In that game, Gillispie threw 1.2 innings. He gave up 4 hits, 2 runs (both earned), walked 1, and struck out none in a 9 to 4 Wahoo victory.
Weather Watch (Courtesy of Weather.com)
Another nice evening for baseball is on tap. At the first pitch, temps will be in the lower 80s. Winds will be about 5 MPH. The chance of precipitation will be about 5%. Humidity will be pretty low too so enjoy that while it lasts!
When you hit the road in nonconference play, you're subject to a different set of broadcast/streaming arrangements. ESPN will still have streaming of this matchup. Instead of ACC Network Extra, this game will be on ESPN's ESPN + package. That's a separate subscription tier from ESPN.
WINA will broadcast the game over the radio waves for the Charlottesville area locals. WINA.com is also offering streaming of the radio broadcast at WINA.com.
Ram To Watch
Senior shortstop Zac Ching gets the spotlight in this matchup. Originally from Lubbock, Texas, Ching's numbers have taken a big jump from his junior to senior season.
Ching is the team leader in doubles (19), triples (2, tied for lead), homers (6), and total bases (101). He's also second on the Rams in stolen bases (14 for 17), hits (60), RBI (40).
Ching will bring a slash line of .323/.404/.543 into this game.
Last Season At VCU
The teams split last season's home and home. VCU got the better of the Wahoos at The Diamond in a matchup that was never close.
VCU ultimately won the game 11 to 3 after sprinting out to a 7 to 0 lead after two innings.
Griff McGarry started the game and it was one to forget. McGarry lasted 1.2 innings while giving up 6 runs (4 earned), 4 walks, and 3 hits. He also struck out one Ram on the outing.
The biggest contributors on offense for the Hoos were Andy Weber (2 for 4, 1 run) and Charlie Cody (2 for 3, 2 RBI).
VCU currently sits atop the A10 baseball standings after being picked second in the league's preseason poll. Their 13-5 record is good for a 1 game lead over Dayton.
And while their 30-14, 13-5 record looks outstanding, the A10 is the number 19th rated conference in the RPI per WarrenNolan.com.
VCU's overall record isn't quite as impressive once you drill down a bit. Nearly half their wins are from within their weak conference. Against Power 5 teams, VCU is 1-3 on the season. They're 1-0 against UNC and 0-3 against Maryland.
Working in UVA's favor is that Brian O'Connor is 19-3 in his coaching career against the Rams.
This game is probably a tossup. VCU throwing their top starter could be the difference maker against a UVA team that's struggling with finding ways to win lately.
I suspect this home and home series will be more like Liberty (home team wins each game) than JMU (UVA sweep).
VCU wins a close one.