Virginia continues its fifteen game homestand this weekend with its first home weekend series of the young season.
After just sneaking by VMI in the home opener, Virginia (2-2) will host the Bucknell Bison (1-3) of the Patriot League in a four-game series.
Bucknell, who has played close games in each of their four contests to date, is looking to spring the upset. UVA will want a sweep while finding some productivity at the plate.
The rare four-game weekend series is scheduled to have a doubleheader on Saturday.
Friday, February 21: 3:00 PM
Saturday, February 22 (Game 1): Noon
Saturday, February 22 (Game 2): 40 minutes after the completion of Game 1
Sunday, February 23: 1:00 PM
The Hoos and Bison meet for the first time since the 2014 NCAA Tournament in the Charlottesville Regional. The Hoos won that matchup 10 to 1. Taking a trip down memory lane, the stars of that game were Artie Lewicki on the mound, Mike Papi, Derek Fisher, Branden Cogswell, and John La Prise.
Under Coach O'Connor, UVA is 13-0 against Bucknell. Overall, the Hoos hold a 23-1 record against the Bison. Bucknell's lone win in the series came in 1925 by a 10 to 2 score.
Projected Starting Pitchers
Friday - UVA: RHP Griff McGarry (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 5.0 IP, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts) vs Bucknell: RHP Jack Simpson (0-1, 3.60 ERA, 5.0 IP, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts)
The senior righty could play OT for Bronco Mendenhall as he's listed as 6-8 and 265 pounds. With that height, he may even pique the interest of the UVA coaching staff as well.
As a junior in 2019, Simpson made 16 appearances on the mound for Bucknell. He started 10 of those appearances.
In those 16 appearances, Simpson posted a 2-6 record. He pitched 61.1 innings where he stuck out 58 and walked 41. Simpson also hit 12 batters and threw 14 wild pitches in 2019. Opposing batters hit .294 during Simpson's junior year. He completed the season with an ERA of 7.78.
In his only appearance to date in 2020, Simpson started Bucknell's second game of the season last weekend in Cary, North Carolina against Monmouth. In a game won 3 to 1 by Monmouth, Simpson pitched 5.0 innings as the Bison's starter. He gave up 2 runs (both earned), 5 hits, and 2 walks. Simpson also struck out 3 against Monmouth.
This will be Simpson's first career appearance against the Hoos.
Saturday (Game 1) - UVA: RHP Mike Vasil (0-0, 2.25 ERA, 4.0 IP, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts) vs Bucknell: RHP Brenden Tuttle (0-0, 4.91 ERA, 3.2 IP, 7 walks, 4 strikeouts)
Game 1 of Saturday's doubleheader will be the third career start for the junior right hander for Bucknell. Prior to the 2019 season finale versus Lehigh, Tuttle had worked exclusively as a reliever for Bucknell. This start will make his second in as many appearances in 2020.
As a sophomore in 2019, Tuttle made a total of 14 appearances. He posted a 2-3 record with a 6.53 ERA. He pitched a total of 20.2 innings where he walked 19 and stuck out 15. Tuttle also hit 3 batters and threw 8 wild pitches as a sophomore. Overall, batters recorded a .289 batting average against Tuttle in 2019.
Last time out, Tuttle started in the second game against Monmouth during Bucknell's opening weekend in Cary, NC. Bucknell won that game 5 to 4. Tuttle did not factor into the game's decision. He did pitch 3.2 innings where he surrendered 2 runs (both earned) against 3 hits and 7 walks. He also hit 1 batter and stuck out 4.
This will be Tuttle's first career appearance against UVA.
Saturday (Game 2) - UVA: RHP Chesdin Harrington (0-1, 6.00 ERA, 3.0 IP, 0 walks, 3 strikeouts) vs Bucknell: RHP Nate Grisius (0-1, 5.40 ERA, 5.0 IP, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts)
Grisius is a veteran on the Bucknell pitching staff. The senior from Vienna, Virginia has made 46 career appearances and 10 starts. The righty was primarily a reliever until he entered Bucknell's weekend rotation last season where he made 8 of his 10 career starts.
During his junior campaign, Grisius made a total of 14 appearances for the Bison. He pitched 50.1 innings where he posted an ERA of 5.01 and compiled a 2-6 record. Over those 50.1 innings, Grisius walked 31 while striking out 40. He also hit 10 batters and threw 6 wild pitches. Opposing batters hit .233 against Grisius in 2019.
His lone appearance this season was a start against Penn State in Bucknell's season opener in Cary, North Carolina. Penn State won that contest 9 to 6 with Grisius taking the loss. He lasted 5.0 innings against the Nittany Lions where he gave up 4 runs (3 earned). Grisius walked 2 and struck out 3 in the contest. He also threw 1 wild pitch.
This will be his first career appearance versus the Hoos.
Sunday - UVA: LHP Nate Savino (0-0, 13.50 ERA, 1.1 IP, 2 walks, 1 strikeout) vs Bucknell: LHP Tyler Rigot (0-0, 1.50 ERA, 5.0 IP, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts)
Rigot was Bucknell's most successful starting pitcher during their four game opening weekend series in Cary, North Carolina. He was the starting pitcher in Sunday's 8 TO 5 loss to NJIT. Despite the final score, Rigot posted a nice line against the Highlanders. In 5.0 innings, he allowed only 2 runs (1 earned). In what was the career debut for the freshman lefty, Rigot gave up 4 hits, walked none, and stuck out 5. Rigot also threw 1 wild pitch.
Sunday's game against UVA will be Rigot's second career appearance. Thus, it will be his first time pitching against the Hoos.
Sunny and cold is the order of the day for Friday's season opener. Expect clear skies throughout with temps in the lower 40s at first pitch. They'll fall into the upper 30s throughout the game. Winds should not be a factor.
During Saturday's doubleheader, we'll get identical weather to the series opener except warmer. At first pitch, temps should be in the upper 40s. Throughout the afternoon, they'll peak in the mid-50s before dropping into the upper 40s as game two is probably finishing up.
It will be more of the same Sunday with temps expected in the lower 50s as the series wraps.
Each game in the series will feature live streaming via ACC Network Extra. ACC Network Extra can be viewed through ESPN's streaming platforms.
Friday's audio broadcast can also be found on WINA and WINA.com.
The audio broadcast for each game in the series is also available online through VirginiaSports.com. Look for the link to each game on the schedule page of the baseball section.
Bison To Watch
Leadoff batter Evan Madigan is the guy to watch for Bucknell thus far. The senior shortstop is leading the Bison in most offensive categories. He'll carry a .400 / .500 / .467 slash line into the series. That's tops among Bucknell regulars. His .967 OPS is tops as well. Madigan leads the team in hits (6), runs scored (tied, 3), doubles (tied, 1), walks (tied, 2), and stolen bases (tied, 1).
Also look out for outfielder Tyler Wincig. The senior was First Team All-Patriot League in 2019 where he topped Bucknell with 8 homers and posted a slash line of .348 / .500 / .643. His 1.143 OPS easily topped the Bison. Wincig has not heated up to start the 2020 season but it's likely only a matter of time before he gets on track.
UVA needs to sweep these four games. Bucknell isn't on their level, both in talent and depth.
To do so, the Hoos' bats need to awake from hibernation though. If that doesn't happen, they're looking at four tight games where walks and errors become exacerbated.
It won't be pretty at all times, but I think UVA finds a way to get it done.
UVA sweeps the four games.