The number one ranked University of Miami Hurricanes baseball team is riding high after an emotional series victory against archrival Florida State.
The Hurricanes look to keep their ranking intact and post another ACC series victory when they welcome the Virginia Cavaliers to Mark Light Field for a three-game series.
The matchup pins the Cavaliers strong pitching staff against the Hurricanes potent lineup.
The Cavaliers, ranked as high as number 16 in the polls, will send out LHP Pat McAnaney (4-1, 2.17), RHP Jacob Thompson (4-2, 4.21) and RHP Andrew Carraway (3-2, 2.82) to the mound this weekend. Virginia is third in the ACC in team ERA. McAnaney has been the most consistent hurler in the rotation, striking out 74 batters while opposing batters are just hitting .195 against him for the season.
The Cavaliers bullpen has been stellar and has the ability to shorten games. Michael Schwimer (2-1, 0.95) has 11 saves while middle relievers Neal Davis (3-0, 0.59) and Matt Packer (5-1, 1.35) also have been reliable options.
Virginia is the next ACC team that will have the difficult challenge of trying to find a method of shutting down the Miami lineup in a three-game series.
Canes first baseman Yonder Alonso has been on a tear at the plate and was named ACC Player of the Week on Monday for his performance against Florida State. Alonso hit .556 with 10 runs scored, two home runs and nine RBIs over the weekend. Second baseman Jemile Weeks continues to lead the Hurricanes in hitting while centerfielder Blake Tekotte and shortstop Ryan Jackson have been hot with the bat and are both hitting at an impressive, .380 clip.
The Hurricanes will look to get their starting rotation fully healthy and throw with more consistency. LHP Chris Hernandez (6-0, 3.16) has allowed at least three runs in his last four starts, but he has been able to go relatively deep into games and use run support to his advantage. RHP Enrique Garcia (2-1, 6.18) has yet to win at Mark Light Field and will look to bounce back after losing his first game of the season on Saturday. LHP Eric Erickson (6-0, 3.28) will get the nod for the second straight weekend after coming back from elbow soreness and may be more extended with his pitch count.
In what may be a close series, look for the 1-2 punch in the bullpen of RHP Kyle Bellamy and RHP Carlos Gutierrez to play a factor in determining the outcome of the series.
Miami must take away the ability for Virginia to utilize their speed and aggressiveness on the base paths. The Cavaliers lead the ACC in stolen bases and shortstop Greg Miclat has swiped 25 bags. Virginia is not a power-hitting team and ranks last in the ACC with just 19 home runs.
The Cavaliers are led offensively by left fielder Dan Grovatt, who is hitting .352. First baseman Jeremy Farrell has seven home runs and 40 RBI while second baseman David Adams has hit five home runs and driven in 41 runs.
Virginia has been up-and-down during ACC play. The Cavaliers were swept on the road against Florida State and have also lost two out of three games against Duke and North Carolina State.
Miami looks to keep the streak alive of winning consecutive series since the start of the season.
All records and statistics were current as of 4/21/08.
Alex Kushel may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.