Clemson faces tough road test at #1 Virginia

Virginia Sophomore Danny Hultzen is one of the very best pitchers in the nation this year.

#1 Virginia Cavaliers (18-3, 5-1) vs. #12 Clemson Tigers (17-4, 6-0)

Virginia hasn't exactly played a patsy schedule thus far, unlike our other opponents coming in. They took 2 of 3 against a Top 15-ranked ECU squad to start the year in Greenville. A couple weeks later they went to Tallahassee and took 2 of 3 against a Top 5-ranked FSU squad. UVA ace Danny Hultzen allowed just 2 hits to the stout-hitting Seminoles in 6 innings in a 5-0 shutout of one of the ACC's best offensive teams. This team hits well, pitches well, and plays pretty good defense. For us to win 2 of 3 could really send our team confidence to the top and put us in an excellent position for a top national seed if we could keep it going.

Clemson AD Series Preview -- Virginia AD series preview

Clemson and Virginia have met 140 times on the diamond, with the Tigers holding a 101-39 lead in the series dating back to the 1955 season. Last year in the ACC Tournament at Durham, NC, Virginia defeated Clemson 6-5. The two teams did not meet during the 2008 or 2009 regular season.

Last Week:

Virginia defeated Marshall 6-3 on Tuesday night in their only midweek contest. SS Tyler Cannon went 4-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 13 games and closer Kevin Arico earned his 7th save.

Over the weekend, Virginia swept Boston College pretty soundily by scores of 7-1, 4-3, and 11-1.

Virginia's starting pitching was impressive all weekend. Cody Winiarski, Danny Hultzen and Robert Morey each earned wins and went at least six innings. Over the weekend the trio combined to record a 0.81 ERA in 21 innings and allowed just two earned runs, 10 hits and three walks while striking out 23. Their batters pounded out at least 10 hits in all 4 of these games.

Clemson trotted out a pisspoor performance against Elon in both midweek games after sweeping a stout offensive team from Blacksburg. We lost 15-10 when the pitching and defense fell apart Tuesday, and on Wednesday night just couldn't get a hit to fall in a 4-3 loss. If they follow Leggett's M.O. and play tight this weekend, I would not be surprised.

Weekend Starters:

Friday, 6pm:

Throws Player Rec ERA IP H R ER BB Ks
LHP Casey Harman 4-0 1.86 29.0 19 6 6 11 21
LHP Danny Hultzen 4-1 1.06 34.0 16 5 4 4 43

 

Saturday, 4pm:

Throws Player Rec ERA IP H R ER BB Ks
LHP Will Lamb 2-0 2.08 21.2 18 7 5 10 8
RHP Robert Morey 3-1 3.07 29.1 27 13 10 11 22

Expect Lamb to play 1B in other games besides this one with Shaffer out another couple weeks. Parker may play 1st here.

Sunday, 1pm:

Throws Player Rec ERA IP H R ER BB Ks
RHP Scott Weismann 3-0 2.96 27.1 26 17 9 7 27
RHP Cody Winiarski 2-0 5.70 23.2 27 15 15 10 17

Hitting Comparison

Virginia boasts the 2nd best hitting team in the ACC for average, and just 3 points behind leader NC State. Clemson has already swept the top-hitting Woofers and the 4th-ranked Hokies.

UVA hits a lot of triples, and are the best in the ACC in this statistic. They are 4th or better in pretty much every statistical category offensively. Notice the substantial power difference in the lineups and it appears Clemson takes more pitches at-bat, indicative of our improved plate discipline this year.

Team Batting Statistics
BA AB H R 2B 3B HR RBI BB HBP SB-ATT K
Clemson .311 721 224 197 47 3 35 178 130 20 38-50 133
Virginia .354 752 266 185 63 12 15 172 109 25 28-38 118

 

Virginia Prospective Lineup
Pos Player BA R H 2B HR RBI BB
LF/2B Phil Gosselin .412 22 35 10 3 17 16
2B Keith Werman .475 10 19 1 0 10 5
RF Dan Grovatt .395 24 32 4 4 24 12
3B Steven Proscia .341 19 28 8 3 29 8
CF Jarrett Parker .305 19 25 8 1 18 8
SS Tyler Cannon .400 17 32 10 0 20 11
1B John Hicks .262 18 22 7 1 11 3
C Franco Valdes .257 4 9 3 0 5 7
DH Reed Gragnani .407 7 11 1 0 8 4
C x-Kenny Swab .359 8 14 2 1 7 7
LF x-John Barr .436 12 17 3 0 6 11

 

Hultzen also bats .216-0-3 and DH Stephen Bruno plays part-time and hits .524-2-11.  Swab and Barr play quite a bit so I've included them. Grovatt and Gosselin rank 6th and 7th in the ACC in hitting. Gosselin is 1st in hits and 6th in OBP, as well as 1st in the number of doubles hit. Teammate Tyler Cannon is tied at 2nd and also has 3 triples. Jarrett Parker is tied for 3rd in the number of times having struck out.

Kyle Parker leads the ACC in Slugging Pct and Homers and is 5th in OBP, 3rd in Runs scored. Wilson Boyd is riding a 12-game hit streak. Lamb is most likely to play 1st on Friday/Sunday with Parker Saturday, though I could see them trying someone else. Chris Epps really has to get his bat going, even Addison hits better than he is now (thats bad). I wouldn't be surprised to see Jack run Hinson out at 3rd instead of Stolz, who has the weaker arm of the two but will make the routine play and hits better in more ABs. Possible substitutes are denoted with an "x". Boyd could end up anywhere in the lineup from 5 on down.

Clemson Prospective Lineup
Pos Player BA R H 2B HR RBI BB
SS Brad Miller .338 25 24 7 1 15 19
2B Mike Freeman .299 20 26 4 2 14 9
LF Jeff Schaus .321 23 26 6 6 31 12
RF/1B Kyle Parker .405 31 32 2 10 23 18
1B/DH Will Lamb .333 11 9 4 2 9 7
C John Nester .244 5 10 3 1 10 5
DH Chris Epps .221 18 15 3 3 8 20
3B Jason Stolz .216 6 8 3 0 8 3
3B x-John Hinson .326 8 15 2 2 15 6
C x-Phil Pohl .296 7 8 5 1 10 3
CF/DH Wilson Boyd .333 19 26 4 3 16 16

Team Pitching Comparison

Virginia is just barely ahead of Clemson in team ERA, and we're both looking up at ACC leading Georgia Tech (2.80 era so far). They are tied for 2nd in the ACC in strikeouts with Miami, solely in 2nd place for Ks-caught-looking. We're all 1-2-3 in the lowest number of walks allowed as well.

As for the Clemson pen, its clearing up as to who we should go-to and who we shouldn't. Tomas Cruz is awful so far, allowing 11 runs in 9 2/3 innings. Justin Sarratt is equally shitty with 14 in 11 1/3. Scott Firth and Dominic Leone have been either hit or miss when they're out there, and Firth messed himself up with errors this week.

For the good ones, I still believe Kevin Brady should get more innings, possibly as a midweek starter. David Haselden has been rock-solid with 1 run in 10.2 IP and Meyer and Frederick have both been good for us. Frederick pitched some solid innings against Elon so you may not see him Friday.

Team Pitching Statistics
ACC Rank ERA W-L SHO/CBO Saves IP H R ER BB Ks
3rd Virginia 3.42 18-3 2/2 9 187.0 156 76 71 67 177
Clemson 3.69 17-4 2/2 5 190.0 183 110 78 78 147

Virginia's bullpen is a fair bit better aside from a couple of guys that skew the collective ERA. Their Closer, Kevin Arico, has 7 saves already this season and 18 Ks in 12 IP to go with a 2.25 ERA. Tyler Wilson has a 2-1 record with a 3.26 ERA in 11 appearances and Brandon Kline also has 2 wins with a 3.24 ERA in 19 innings pitched and 2 starts in midweek action. This is a very good bullpen statistically for a college team, and they throw strikes.

VA fields at an ACC-best .979 clip, a fair bit better than Clemson's .950 last-place ACC defense. Steven Proscia is not terribly solid at 3B with 5 errors already on the year, and SS Tyler Cannon has 4. Stolz has 5 errors for Clemson in part-time duty at 3rd and Miller has 13 errors so far at Short.

I feel like Clemson could win the series 2-1, especially with the advantage in starting pitching, but I think these games will be tougher and therefore closer, which brings the defense into consideration....and thats bad for Clemson. If we can control errors and make the routine play, we've got a really good chance to upset them.

Predictions anyone?

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