Patience truly is a virtue for Virginia coach Brian O'Connor.
O'Connor has turned the Cavaliers, which at one time were a non-factor in the ACC or NCAA postseason race, into one of the nation's elite programs. The Cavaliers have reached the College World Series two of the last three seasons.
So, when the Cavaliers got off to a slow start this season, it was a tough pill to swallow. But in a way, it was one that was somewhat expected by O'Connor and his coaching staff after losing several key cogs from last year's team, notably two-way star Danny Hultzen.
The Cavaliers hit rock bottom in early March when they went 1-2 in their own tournament with losses to Seton Hall and Wright State. And things were further complicated a couple of weekends later, getting swept at Florida State.
Now, as the Cavaliers continue to get more games under the belt, this team is slowly but surely getting better and better, and now comes the national attention. The Cavaliers have won seven of their last nine ACC games, and are in good shape overall with a 23-10 record.
"I think anytime you have consistent success and your'e winning a majority of your games, and you're not winning at that rate anymore, there can be frustrations," O'Connor said. "I really thought despite that, our coaching staff and players handled the adversity well."
Though the Cavaliers have made significant strides on the mound the past few weeks, it's the offense that has allowed this team to keep their head above water for much of the season. The Cavaliers are hitting .316 as a team with Jared King (.368/3/35), Stephen Bruno (.336/2/30) and Keith Werman (.322/0/16) leading the way.
King has been a very consistent bat for the Cavaliers this season, while Werman has increased his batting average nearly 70 points over the last month. Meanwhile, Bruno has made significant strides both offensively and defensively at third base.
"We are clicking right now. Our lineup has figured it out," he said. "Some of the younger players in our lineup have 100 at bats under their belt, so they now understand how they're going to be pitched at this level."
No freshman has garnered more attention this spring than 6-foot-3, 210-pound, outfielder Derek Fisher. Fisher was ranked the No. 11 player nationally by PG in the 2011 signing class, and certainly is living up to that billing. Though Fisher only is hitting .301, he's leading the team with five home runs, and also has 33 RBIs.
"It's easy to point to Derek as an improving product. Over the last month, he really has emerged for us," he said. "He's getting a lot more extra-base hits and some big RBIs. He's really starting to put everything together."
While the offense leads the way for Virginia, another big key to this sudden emergence is the development of the pitching staff.
The Cavaliers recently got bad news with right-handed pitcher Whit Mayberry, who was throwing very well, being lost for the season because of a UCL injury. However, several pitchers are stepping up in his absence.
"You know, the offense has been there the whole year, but the pitching staff has been much, much better the last month," he said. "When we've made this turn as a team, our pitching staff has been more consistent."
O'Connor points to improved relief pitching as a chief reason for the vast improvements. The Cavaliers have several talented relievers throwing well, including Shane Halley (1.85, 24 1/3 IP), Justin Thompson (1.86, 19 1/3 IP), Austin Young (3.57, 17 2/3 IP) and Kyle Crockett (3.86, 28 IP).
Starting-wise, heralded right-handed pitcher Branden Kline, one of the top prospects for the upcoming MLB draft, struggled early in the season but has since settled into a groove. Kline has a 3.19 ERA in 53 2/3 innings. He also has struck out 53 and walked 19, while teams are hitting him at a .221 clip.
"He was having to throw so many pitches the first month of the season, he was just trying to get everyone to swing and miss at everything," he said. "Once he started to be more efficient and consistently throwing strikes, he got back on track. Lately, his fastball command and velocity have been better."
Kline has been sitting in the 90-94 range with his fastball the past couple of weeks, while also continuing to use that nasty slider.
Meanwhile, O'Connor can't argue too much with the production by Scott Silverstein and Artie Lewicki. Silverstein made headlines in the fall when his fastball sat in the mid 90s, and he has put together a 2.62 ERA in 44 2/3 innings this spring. Lewicki hasn't been nearly as consistent, but again, like the others, is getting in a groove.
"Silverstein is walking a few too many guys for my liking, but he has done a very solid job for the most part. We really needed Scott to emerge with the guys we lost," he said. "Artie has done a nice job filling in. He and Scott aren't guys who are going to dominate for seven or eight innings, but they can put together good starts."
Once thought to be in trouble just two weeks into ACC play, the outlook has changed for the Cavaliers. Suddenly, they're 9-6 in conference and have a very good RPI of 14, certainly a lock to make the NCAA postseason at this point, barring a nasty collapse to end the regular season.
It's hard to imagine the Cavaliers would be in this good of shape when you saw their situation a month ago. But through hard work, and you know, patience, things are back on track entering this weekend's home series against North Carolina.
The Cavaliers are just getting started.
"It has been exciting. This day and age in college baseball, it's hard to win at an elite level all the time with how most programs go through cycles," he said. "We have a really good club and I think we're setup well for the stretch run. I think this team could develop into a very dangerous club by the postseason."
Baylor (27-7): The Bears will continue to get plenty of love as they continue to win at a high level. The Bears swept Missouri on the road last weekend, picked up a pair of midweek wins, and are now winners of 16-straight games heading into this weekend's series against Kansas State.
Florida International (19-13): The Panthers were expected to have a strong campaign. And though they started the season on an incredibly negative note, they're now heating up in Sun Belt play. FIU is winners of six-straight games, had a 7-5 league mark and has a 19-13 overall record. Additionally, the Panthers continue to see their very important RPI continue to climb.
Sam Houston State (23-9): SHSU first-year skipper David Pierce has to be in the discussion for coaches doing the best jobs this season. The Bearkats have been fantastic so far this spring, sitting 13-2 in the Southland Conference regular season race entering this weekend's series at Lamar. SHSU is in the midst of an impressive 12-game winning streak.
LSU (27-7): It was only a matter of time before the Tigers started to go on a roll. LSU has played a fantastic brand of baseball the past two weekends, earning series wins over Arkansas and Florida. Now, the Tigers play host to Alabama in a series they should at least get two of three games. The Tigers have won three-straight and are 9-1 in their last 10.
San Diego (26-8) Toreros head coach Rich Hill is quietly putting together one of the better coaching jobs this season. USD is 7-2 in the WCC after earning a big series win over Gonzaga last weekend. It also is 8-2 in its last 10 and is winners of three-straight contests.
Fresno State (15-16): The Bulldogs just can't seem to establish any positive consistency this season. They dropped their first WAC series and are in tough shape with a losing overall record. Furthermore, the Bulldogs are 3-7 in their last 10 games entering the San Jose State series.
San Francisco (14-22): The Dons are having serious issues winning games this year even with a pair of very talented weekend starters in Kyle Zimmer and Alex Balog. The Dons are 1-5 in the WCC, are losers of six-straight contests and are 1-9 in their last 10 games.
California (17-14): The Golden Bears appeared to take a big step forward to weekends ago with a series win over Texas. However, they went back to normal against USC last weekend. The Bears are 4-6 in their last 10 games and losers of four-straight games. Cal will need to finish the year on a high note to make the NCAA postseason.
UNLV (14-18): The Rebels put together what seemed to be a 2011 campaign that was setting the stage for the future. Instead, the Rebels have taken a step back this season, sitting at 2-10 in the MWC with an overall record four games below .500. UNLV is 4-6 in its last 10 games and losers of three-straight contests.
UC Davis (11-17): The Aggies showed some signs of having a good campaign earlier this season, but things obviously have had a road block. The Aggies are 0-3 in Big West play after getting swept by Cal State Fullerton. They're 1-9 in their last 10 games and are losers of seven-straight contests. They should turn things around at home against Pacific this weekend.
FIVE GREAT PITCHING MATCHUPS
Oklahoma State LHP Andrew Heaney vs. Texas RHP Nathan Thornhill
The Cowboys are trying to get back into the Big 12 race, and Heaney, one of the top prospects for the upcoming MLB draft, wants to get OSU started on the right foot. Heaney has an explosive fastball that typically sits in the 90-94 range, and adds a good curveball and changeup to the mix, too. He's having a great year for OSU, compiling a 2.31 ERA in 58 1/3 innings of work. He also has struck out 76 and walked 13, while opposing teams are hitting him at a .203 clip. Meanwhile, the Longhorns will counter with Thornhill, a talented right-hander. Thornhill certainly doesn't have near the dominant stuff of Heaney, but can get his fastball up to 92 with decent off speed stuff. Thornhill is 4-2 with a 3.81 ERA in 52 innings. He also has struck out 43 and walked 14, while teams are hitting .235 against him.
Mississippi State RHP Chris Stratton vs. South Carolina LHP Michael Roth
Mississippi State desperately needs a big series win, and opposites attract when Stratton and Roth go head-to-head on Friday night. Stratton is a big-time prospect and power pitcher. He has a fastball that sits in the low-to-mid 90s, while his breaking pitchers are solid, too. Stratton is having a great year, sitting 7-0 with a 2.54 ERA in 49 2/3 innings of work. He also has struck out 67 and walked 14 ,while teams are hitting just .203 against him. Meanwhile, Roth is the opposite of an elite prospect, but is an excellent pitcher -- one of college baseball's best. The talented left-hander can get his fastball up to 88-89 at times, and has a 1.98 ERA in 54 2/3 innings. He has struck out 47 and walked 11, while teams are hitting .174 against him.
UCLA RHP Adam Plutko vs. Arizona RHP Kurt Heyer
Two of the top pitchers on the West Coast will butt heads as the Bruins and Wildcats aim for Pac-12 supremacy. Plutko joins the lengthy list of talented UCLA hurlers. He's a right-hander that has consistent staff and a fastball that sits in the 90-92 range. He has had a very solid season for the Bruins, sittings at 4-2 with a 3.26 ERA in 49 2/3 innings of work. He also has struck out 54 and walked 21, while teams are hitting .211 against him. Meanwhile, Heyer is another guy with a fastball in the 90-91 range, and he, too, is having a good year. Heyer is 5-1 with a 2.10 ERA in 60 innings. He also has struck out 55 and walked nine, while opponents are hitting him at a .248 clip.
North Carolina LHP Kent Emanuel vs. Virginia RHP Branden Kline
Virginia is playing a much better brand of baseball these days and hopes Kline can start them on the right foot this weekend. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels have a lot of faith in sophomore left-hander Kent Emanuel. Emanuel isn't a guy that's going to blow up radar guns, but he has superior pitchability. He's 5-2 with a 1.93 ERA in 51 1/3 innings of work. He also has struck out 45 and walked nine, while teams are hitting him at a .258 clip. Meanwhile, Kline is one of the nation's top prospects/pitchers and has a ton of upside. Kline has struggled with his fastball command some this season, but finally is settling in and has been 90-94 on a consistent basis with his fastball. Kline is 5-2 with a 3.19 ERA in 53 2/3 innings. He has struck out 53 and walked 19, while teams are hitting him at a .221 clip.
Oregon RHP Jake Reed vs. Stanford LHP Brett Mooneyham
Some might consider the series-opening matchup between Alex Keudell and Mark Appel might be the bigger matchup, but it doesn't get much more intriguing than one of the nation's elite freshmen going against one of the nation's top junior pitchers/prospects. Reed has a fastball into the 90s and has been very solid in his first season with the Ducks. Reed is 3-2 with a 2.47 ERA in 54 2/3 innings of work. He also has struck out 31 and walked 18, while teams are hitting him at a .219 clip. Meanwhile, Mooneyham is pitching into the 90s with very solid off speed stuff this season. His stock has greatly risen, and for a good reason. The talented lefty is 5-2 with a 2.68 ERA in 47 innings. He also has struck out 57 and walked 23, while teams are hitting him at a .234 clip.
TEN SERIES TO WATCH
No. 2 Kentucky at No. 8 Arkansas: No team in college baseball has been more surprising than the Wildcats this spring. Gary Henderson is doing a terrific job with this group. Fresh off a home series win over Ole Miss, the Wildcats hit the road with a productive offense, which is hitting .323 with freshmen Austin Cousino and A.J. Reed leading the way with .355 and .339 batting averages, respectively. Meanwhile, veteran catcher Luke Maile has been fantastic with a .336 average, nine home runs and 36 RBIs. Pitching-wise, the bullpen definitely is the strength of this team with Trevor Gott, Alex Phillips, Sam Mahar, Reed and Tim Peterson leading the way, while the weekend rotation needs to be a bit more consistent with just Corey Littrell sporting an ERA below 4.32 entering the weekend ... Arkansas has struggled a bit offensively lately, but hopes to get back on track this weekend with third baseman Matt Reynolds and first baseman Dominic Ficociello leading the way with averages of .346 and .333, respectively. Meanwhile, the pitching staff is now back in great shape with right-hander DJ Baxendale returning to normal last weekend. Barrett Astin is in his second week in the rotation with a 0.84 ERA in 32 innings, while ace Ryne Stanek has a 1.65 ERA in 49 innings with teams hitting him at a .215 clip. The bullpen, as with Kentucky, is the strength of this club with a power arm in Nolan Sanburn and solid arms in Colby Suggs and Cade Lynch leading the way.
PG Pick: Arkansas
No. 5 Florida at Tennessee: The Gators certainly have had a wild past couple of weeks. They've dropped two-straight SEC series to Ole Miss and LSU (at home), but bounced back in midweek action with a win over rival Florida State. Perhaps that gets them back on track for good. The Gators are hitting .293 as a team and have one of the nation's elite players in catcher Mike Zunino, who's hitting .353 with 10 home runs and 38 RBIs. Meanwhile, Daniel Pigott, Preston Tucker and Nolan Fontana all are guys that can give opposing pitchers headaches. Pitching-wise, the Gators have a deep staff, but right-handed starting pitcher Hudson Randall could miss the weekend because of arm fatigue, putting much pressure on Karsten Whitson, Brian Johnson and Jonathon Crawford to put together good starts. Meanwhile, the Gators have an excellent bullpen with Austin Maddox, who has nine saves, and the duo of Greg Larson and Steven Rodriguez leading the way ... Tennessee is on the cusp of being included in our weekly NCAA field of 64, and a series over the Gators would be one way to officially enter the mix. The Vols are hitting .260 as a team with Will Maddox leading the way with a .320 average and 11 RBIs. Meanwhile, the pitching staff is what could get it done this weekend. Zack Godley has been consistent for the most part with a 3.81 ERA in eight starts and 49 2/3 innings of work, while T.J. Thornton, who has made three starts, has a 4.26 ERA in 19 innings. The Vols feel good when they turn things over to now closer Nick Blount, who has made 18 appearances and recorded eight saves.
PG Pick: Florida
No. 18 Oregon at No. 7 Stanford: The Ducks appeared to be in trouble just a couple of weeks ago, but really have turned their fortunes around with a pair of Pac-12 series wins over Arizona State and UCLA. Now they hope to add yet another impressive series win to their improving postseason resume. The Ducks could use some improvements at the plate, hitting just .262 on the year. But keep an eye on talented hitters such as Kyle Garlick and Aaron Jones, who are hitting .357 and .316, respectively. Meanwhile, Ryon Healy has plenty of potential with a .289 average and 22 RBIs. Pitching-wise, this is a very talented unit with Alex Keudell, Jake Reed and Brando Tessar leading the weekend rotation. The Ducks don't have a starting pitcher with an ERA above 3.28, and also have an outstanding closer in Jimmie Sherfy, who has a 2.53 ERA in 32 innings, earning seven saves in the process ... Much like the Ducks, the Cardinal has a very talented weekend rotation with top prospects Mark Appel and Brett Mooneyham leading the way. Appel has a 3.32 ERA in 57 innings and has struck out 55 and walked 16, while Mooneyham has a 2.68 ERA in 47 innings and teams are hitting him at a .234 clip. Meanwhile, David Schmidt leads the bullpen with a 2.00 ERA in 18 innings, while the Cardinal possesses a talented offense with Eric Smith, Brian Ragira, Kenny Diekroeger, Austin Wilson and Stephen Piscotty leading the weay, each hitting over .310 on the season.
PG Pick: Stanford
No. 33 Mississippi State at No. 12 South Carolina: The Bulldogs certainly haven't had much luck in SEC play so far this spring, but they hope to change that trend against the Gamecocks this weekend. State enters the series hitting .273 as a club with Darryl Norris, who's finally back from an injury, hitting .386 with 16 RBIs. Meanwhile, keep an eye on Adam Frazier, who's hitting .356 with 14 RBIs. Pitching-wise, Chris Stratton is as good as it gets, while Kendall Graveman has a 2.68 ERA in 47 innings. Also keep an eye on relievers Jonathan Holder and Caleb Reed, both elite arms with excellent numbers ... South Carolina already has one of the top left-handed arms in the country in Michael Roth, but also keep an eye on freshman lefty Jordan Montgomery, who rose to the occasion against Tennessee last weekend. He has a 2.70 ERA in 30 innings of work. Meanwhile, the Gamecocks have one of the top relievers in the country in right-hander Matt Price, who has a 3.14 ERA in 43 innings of work. Offensively, the Gamecocks continue to receive inconsistent performances, but must be productive this weekend. First baseman Christian Walker leads the show with a .355 average, seven home runs and 35 RBIs, while freshman shortstop Joey Pankake is rising with a .304 average and 11 RBIs.
PG Pick: South Carolina
No. 9 North Carolina at No. 31 Virginia: The Tar Heels took a step back last weekend by getting swept at Miami, but look to rebound this weekend against the surging Cavaliers. The Heels enter the weekend hitting .276 as a club with catcher Jacob Stallings leading the way, hitting .310 with two home runs and 24 RBIs. Meanwhile, there's no doubt the pitching staff is the strength of this club, entering the weekend with a 2.70 ERA. Staff ace Kent Emanuel has been terrific this season, while fellow starters Benton Moss and Chris Munnelly have ERAs of 1.85 and 2.92, respectively. Also keep an eye on relievers Michael Morin and R.C. Orlan. Morin has an 0.84 ERA and eight saves in 32 1/3 innings of work, while Orlan has a 1.78 ERA in 30 1/3 innings ... Virginia is playing a much better brand of baseball than it was a few weeks ago. The Cavaliers are confident at the plate, entering the weekend hitting .316. Jared King and Stephen Bruno have been fantastic at the plate with averages of .368 and .336 respectively, while second baseman Keith Werman has taken a step forward with a .322 average, and freshman Derek Fisher is meeting expectations with a .301 average, five home runs and 33 RBIs. Pitching-wise, the Cavaliers recently got bad news with Whit Mayberry having a season-ending UCL injury, but they're confident in starting pitchers Branden Kline, Artie Lewicki and Scott Silverstein. Meanwhile, keep an eye on relievers Shane Halley and Justin Thompson, who have ERAs of 1.85 and 1.86, respectively.
PG Pick: Virginia
No. 10 UCLA at No. 6 Arizona: The Wildcats have done a terrific job of protecting their home field this season, the Bruins hope to find a chink in the armor this weekend. UCLA enters the weekend with a .310 average with catcher Tyler Heineman and outfielder Jeff Gelalich leading the way. Heineman is hitting a team-high .412 with 18 RBIs, while Gelalich has taken a huge step forward this season, hitting .376 with six home runs and 22 RBIs. Pitching-wise, the Bruins have a talented trio of weekend starters in Adam Plutko, Nick Vander Tuig and Zack Weiss, while hard-throwing reliever Scott Griggs has a 1.53 ERA and eight saves in 17 2/3 innings, and Ryan Deeter has a 0.59 ERA in 19 appearances and 15 1/3 innings ... The Wildcats didn't play particularly well last week, but earned a road series win over Utah. Now, Arizona returns home this weekend to protect its home turf. The Wildcats enter the weekend hitting .331 with shortstop Alex Mejia leading the way, hitting .380 with three home runs and 27 RBIs. Also keep an eye on outfielder Robert Refsnyder and third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean, who enter the weekend hitting .376 and .368, respectively. Pitching-wise, the Wildcats have a stud ace in Kurt Heyer and Konner Wade has shutdown potential with a 3.71 ERA in 60 2/3 innings. Meanwhile, James Farris, who has a 4.29 ERA in 50 1/3 innings, must rise to the occasion this weekend, as should freshman reliever Mathew Troupe, who has a 2.45 ERA and six saves.
PG Pick: Arizona
No. 19 Mississippi at No. 35 Georgia: This series started a day sooner than the usual Friday action because of ESPNU. The Rebels appeared to be in total control in the opener before the Bulldogs rallied in the eighth inning to take the lead and the win. The Rebels need a strong rest of the weekend at the plate, as they're hitting .311 with stud second baseman Alex Yarbrough leading the way, hitting .427 with three home runs and 34 RBIs. Also keep an eye on Matt Snyder, who has seven home runs and 39 RBIs. Pitching-wise, Bobby Wahl started the series opener, putting the rest of the series on the shoulders of R.J. Hively and Mike Mayers, who have ERAs of 2.68 and 3.99, respectively. It'll also be interesting to see if closer Brett Huber, who has a 5.25 ERA in 12 innings, can bounce back in Game 2 ... For the Bulldogs, they're in very good shape moving forward with Alex Wood, who has a 2.45 ERA in 51 1/3 innings, still left to start. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have some talented relievers to watch in Blake Dieterich, Chase Hawkins, Bryan Benzor and Earl Daniels. Offensively, keep an eye on Curt Powell, Hunter Cole and Kyle Farmer the rest of the weekend. All three came up big in the series opener, and all three are hitting over .305 so far this season.
PG Pick: Georgia
No. 36 Southern California at No. 22 Arizona State: The Trojans picked up a huge home series win over California last weekend, and hope to add another solid series win to their postseason resume this weekend at Arizona State. The Trojans are hitting a surprising .303 as a team with Matt Foat leading the way, hitting .411 with two home runs and 18 RBIs. Meanwhile, the pitching staff has been very solid so far this season, particularly the bullpen with four pitchers having double-digit appearances and each having an ERA under 2.65. Meanwhile, starting pitchers Stephen Tarpley, Andrew Triggs and Ben Mount have been solid for the most part, especially Tarpley ... The Sun Devils are coming off a huge series where they swept Oregon State at home. They're hitting .292 so far this season, with shortstop Deven Marrero hitting just .276. However, second baseman Joey DeMichele has been fantastic, hitting .361 with five home runs and 32 RBIs, while first baseman Abe Ruiz is hitting .324 with eight home runs and 29 RBIs. On the mound, the Sun Devils have a 2.83 ERA with starting pitchers Brady Rodgers and Trevor Williams leading the way. Rodgers has a 1.12 ERA in 64 innings with teams hitting .206 against him, while Williams has a 1.65 ERA in 54 2/3 innings with teams hitting .224 against him.
PG Pick: Arizona State
No. 21 North Carolina State at No. 32 Clemson: The Wolfpack hit the road last weekend and dropped a tough series to Maryland. They're aiming to return to normalcy this weekend against Clemson, which happens to be playing a pretty solid brand of baseball these days. The Wolfpack is hitting .292 as a team with Chris Diaz and Trea Turner leading the way. Diaz is hitting .362 with a home run and 30 RBIs, while Turner is hitting .320 with a home run and 21 RBIs. Pitching-wise, the Wolfpack has a very talented crop of arms with Carlos Rodon and Ethan Ogburn in charge. Rodon has a 1.41 ERA in 57 1/3 innings of work, while Ogburn has a 2.20 ERA in 41 innings. Also keep an eye on reliever Chris Overman, who has two saves in 13 appearances and a 3.24 ERA in 16 2/3 innings ... Clemson has just an OK offensive lineup with stud third baseman Richie Shaffer leading the way, hitting .377 with seven home runs and 33 RBIs. Meanwhile, also keep an eye on second baseman Steve Wilkerson, who has a .350 average and 19 RBIs. Pitching-wise, Kevin Pohle and Kevin Brady have been very solid this spring, with Pohle possessing a 1.94 ERA in 41 2/3 innings and Brady having a 2.72 ERA in 39 2/3 innings. Also keep an eye on talented relievers Scott Firth, Matt Campbell and Mike Kent.
PG Pick: Clemson
No. 17 Miami (Fla.) at Virginia Tech: This series is important for both teams for completely different reasons. The Hurricanes are trying to push their way toward a top-eight national seed the final month of the season, while the Hokies hope to move closer to NCAA postseason contention, but currently have an iffy 5-10 ACC record with a bad postseason resume. The Hurricanes enter the weekend hitting .283 with catcher Peter O'Brien leading the way, hitting a very impressive .356 with 10 doubles, 10 home runs and 36 RBIs. Also keep an eye on Brad Fieger, who's hitting .331 with a home run and 19 RBIs. The 'Canes have a stout pitching staff that enters the weekend with a 2.75 ERA. Starting pitchers Eric Erickson, Steven Ewing and Eric Whaley really have performed at such a high level this season, while reliever E.J. Encinosa was outstanding against North Carolina last weekend and has a 2.50 ERA and seven saves in 18 innings of work ... Virginia Tech has a productive offensive lineup that enters the weekend hitting .303 as a team. Chad Pinder, Mark Zagunis and Tyler Horan are keys to watch. Pinder is hitting .373 with 18 doubles, five home runs and 32 RBIs, Zagunis is hitting .363 with four home runs and 18 RBIs and Horan is hitting just .280, but also has nine home runs and 24 RBIs. Pitching-wise, the Hokies could be better, entering the weekend with a 4.23 ERA. Joe Mantiply spearheads the weekend rotation with a 3.31 ERA in 51 2/3 innings, while Marc Zecchino is having a respectable campaign with a 4.07 ERA in 42 innings of work. Bullpen-wise, Jake Joyce is a guy to watch with two saves in 18 appearances and a 2.57 ERA in 21 innings.
PG Pick: Miami
Kendall Rogers is the college baseball managing editor for Perfect Game and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org