Series Notes: No. 19 Virginia opens ACC play at Duke

uva baseballNo. 19 Virginia (9-4, 0-0 ACC) will begin Atlantic Coast Conference play this weekend with a three-game series at Duke (10-2, 0-0 ACC). The series opener on Friday (March 9) has been moved up to a 4 p.m. start.

Game Coverage: All three games will be carried live on ACC Network Extra, a dedicated digital channel for ACC sports which is available to authenticated subscribers of ESPN3 through WatchESPN and the ESPN app at no additional charge.

A web-only radio stream on VirginiaSports.com will be available for Friday and Saturday’s contests. The series finale on Sunday can be heard on 1070 AM/98.9 FM and online at WINA.com. All three games will feature live stats with links also available on VirginiaSports.com. Fans can follow in-game updates on the team’s official twitter page (@UVABaseball).

Probable Pitching Matchups:

Friday                

Virginia: RHP Derek Casey (2-0, 2.41 ERA, 18.2 IP, 7 BB, 31 SO)

Duke: LHP Adam Laskey (2-1, 2.65, 17.0 IP, 6 BB, 15 SO)

Saturday

Virginia: LHP Daniel Lynch (0-2, 6.50 ERA, 18.0 IP, 5 BB, 17 SO)

Duke: RHP Ryan Day (1-0, 3.32 ERA, 19 IP, 2 BB, 21 SO)

Sunday

Virginia: RHP Evan Sperling (2-0, 1.62 ERA, 16.2 IP, 7 BB, 23 SO)

Duke: LHP Mitch Stallings (1-1, 4.72 ERA, 13.1, 11 BB, 15 SO)

Leading Off

  • Virginia comes into ACC play having won seven of its last eight games.
  • The Cavaliers are 262-146-1 in ACC play under head coach Brian O’Connor.
  • Virginia has opened up ACC play against Duke three of the last five seasons (2014, 2016, 2018).
  • Duke comes into the series with an 8-0 record at home.
  • The Cavaliers have won the last eight ACC series against the Blue Devils including 10 games in-a-row from 2009-11.
  • Virginia owns a 100-58-1 advantage in the all-time series against Duke that was first played in 1926.

Last Meeting

  • The Blue Devils came away with a 4-3 victory in the first game of 2017 ACC Tournament. The win clinched Pool D for Duke, eliminating Virginia from the 2017 ACC Tournament after just one game.
  • After Virginia took 2-1 lead in the fourth inning, the Blue Devils plated three runs in the bottom of the sixth to take the lead for good.
  • Derek Casey took the loss after pitching into the sixth inning. Only two of the four Blue Devil runs were earned and Casey struck out four batters.
  • Caleb Knight reached base four times and was 2-for-2 with a double in the contest. The Cavaliers were limited to six hits, their second lowest total of the 2017 season.

Freshman Contributions

  • First year Cavaliers Tanner Morris and Andrew Papantonis each hit their first career home runs and drove in three runs in a 12-1 victory over Davidsonon Tuesdaynight. For Papantonis, the long ball was also the first hit of his collegiate career.
  • Freshmen relievers Griff McGarry and Blake Rohm helped close out the midweek win with a combined four scoreless innings of work.
  • Morris is tied for third on the team with a .333 batting average (12-for-36) and has started the last eight games at shortstop.
  • Alex Tappen is one of five Cavaliers to start all 13 games. He had his third multi-hit game of the season on Tuesday vs. Davidson and has started every game in right field.

Swings & Misses

  • Going into the weekend, the Virginia pitching staff ranks fifth in the ACC and 18th in the country in strikeouts per nine innings (10.4).
  • As a team, the Cavaliers have struck out 10 or more batters in all but five games in 2018 including a 19-strikeout performance against Yale last Saturday (March 3). The 19 strikeouts werethe most since fanning 20 as a team on April 25, 2007 against James Madison.
  • Fridaynight’s starting pitcher, Derek Casey, has accumulated 31 strikeouts in three starts, the most in the ACC and 10th most in the country. He has produced back-to-back 12-strikeout performances, the first Cavalier pitcher to strikeout 12 or more in back-to-back starts since UVA Baseball Hall of Famer Danny Hultzen in 2011.

Player Notes & Trends

  • Caleb Knight, recently named to the Johnny Bench Award watch list, scored a career-high four runson Tuesdayagainst Davidson. The senior catcher went 2-for-2 with a walk and a hit by pitch. He has reached base safely in all 13 games this season.
  • Nate Eikhoff has also been on base in each of the team’s 13 games in 2018. He is tied for the team lead with 13 RBIs and his three sacrifice flies this season are tied for the 7th most in the country.
  • Senior Justin Novak takes an 11-game hit streak into this weekend’s series and leads the team in with a .381 batting average.

Noting Duke

  • Duke comes into ACC play on an eight-game win streak and fresh off a 9-3 midweek win over Longwoodon Wednesday(March 7).
  • After dropping two-out-of-three against Vanderbilt to start the season, the Blue Devils have recorded series victories at home against Bucknell and Cornell.
  • Duke is in the midst of a 16-game home stand and when all said and done won’t leave the state of North Carolina for a month (Feb. 21 – March 21).
  • The Blue Devils own the league’s highest fielding percentage at .980.

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