College : : Story
Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Charlottesville Regional preview

Kendall Rogers        


Team Conference Record Berth Last NCAA appearance
1. Virginia Atlantic Coast 47-10 At-large 2012
2. UNC Wilmington Colonial Athletic 37-21 At-large 2012
3. Elon Southern 32-28 Automatic 2010
4. Army Patriot 29-21 Automatic 2012
1. Virginia
  2. UNCW   

3. Elon

4. Army
Virginia coach Brian O’Connor has truly done one of his best coaching jobs this season. The Cavaliers entered the 2013 campaign with a host of question marks, but have only far exceeded expectations so far this season. From an offensive standpoint, the Cavaliers have one of the nation’s premier lineups, entering the weekend with a .314 batting average. Mike Papi leads the charge at the plate with a .400 average, 14 doubles, six homers and 54 RBIs, while Brandon Cogswell should return for the postseason and has a .346 average and 22 RBIs. Also keep an eye on Brandon Downs (.318/9/57) and Kenny Towns (.280/7/39), who each had some power production in the ACC tournament, while Joe McCarthy (.329/4/49) and Derek Fisher (.315/7/44), as expected, are having solid campaigns. From a pitching standpoint, the Cavaliers don’t have a weekend rotation that will overwhelm other teams, but they’re typically solid. Scott Silverstein (3.07, 82 IP), Nick Howard (3.38, 61.1) and Brandon Waddell (4.02, 78 1/3) are all very quality arms, while in the bullpen, Kyle Crockett, Josh Sborz, Whit Mayberry and Austin Young have been terrific. Crockett has a 1.81 ERA and 10 saves in 49 2/3 innings, Sborz has a 1.91 ERA in 47 innings, Mayberry has a 2.05 ERA in 48 1/3 innings and Young has a 2.25 ERA in 32 innings.
UNC Wilmington
UNC Wilmington didn’t play great to end the regular season, but could be a very dangerous team this weekend in the Charlottesville Regional. Mark Scalf’s club is relatively balanced and possesses an impressive offensive lineup. Second baseman Michael Bass spearheads the offensive lineup with a .387 batting average, 20 doubles, four homers and 35 RBIs, while Ryan LaGrange and Luke Dunlap also are having solid campaigns with batting averages of .372 and .338, respectively. Also keep an eye on Corey Dick and Tyler Molinaro. Neither are very consistent at the plate, but both have big-time power potential with a combined 19 homers entering the weekend. Pitching-wise, keep an eye on talented starting pitchers Mat Batts and Jordan Ramsey. Batts is an unorthodox left-handed pitcher who has a 3.07 ERA in 105 2/3 innings, along with 110 strikeouts and 26, walks, while Ramsey is a rising right-handed pitcher who has a 2.36 ERA in 99 1/3 innings, along with 82 strikeouts and 27 walks. UNCW also has several relievers to keep an eye on, with Kelly Secrest and Justin Livengood leading the charge. Secrest has appeared in 28 games and has a 3.73 ERA and Livengood has a big-time arm with a 1.93 ERA in 32 2/3 innings of work.
The Phoenix will need to build off their impressive run at the Southern Conference tournament to make a statement this weekend. Elon certainly leaves something to be desired from a pitching standpoint, entering the weekend with a rather high 5.35 ERA. I'd keep an eye on starting pitchers Kyle Webb and Spencer Medick. Webb has had a solid campaign for Elon, going 7-3 with a 3.66 ERA in 98 1/3 innings of work. He also has struck out 92 and walked 20. Meanwhile, Medick has a 5.09 ERA in 86 2/3 innings, along with 71 strikeouts and 21 walks. Reliever Andrew MacDonald is a quality arm, but again, Elon will have to pitch significantly better this weekend to make some noise. This team does have some potential offensively, hitting .288 with Sebastian Gomez and Ryan Kinsella leading the charge. Gomez is hitting .332 with three homers and 42 RBIs, while Kinsella is having a monster campaign with a .329 average, 19 doubles, 20 homers and 75 RBIs. Elon historically has good offensive lineups, but I'm curious to see how this lineup fairs at Davenport Field, which typically favors the pitching.
Thanks to an impressive run in the Austin Regional a few seasons ago, the Black Knights always have teams' attention in the NCAA postseason. The Black Knights leave something to be desired from an offensive standpoint, but have a few quality pitchers to watch. For instance, starting pitchers Chris Rowley and Alex Robinett have been very solid this season. Rowley has a 2.68 ERA in 90 2/3 innings of work, along with 72 strikeouts and 18 walks, while Robinett has a 2.96 ERA in 85 innings along with 61 strikeouts and 24 walks. Meanwhile, keep an eye on reliever Gunnar Carroll, who has four saves in 41 1/3 innings. Offensively, Army will need to be significantly better this weekend to make a statement. This team is hitting just .267 with Patrick Mescher and Jacob Page leading the way. Mescher is hitting a team-high .345 with two homers and 40 RBIs, while Page is hitting .314 with three homers and 35 RBIs. It would be a surprise if the Black Knights upset Virginia, but perhaps they can finish the weekend with a win or two.
Color me a huge fan of this year's Virginia baseball team, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't somewhat concerned about the starting rotation in the NCAA postseason. I don't think the Cavaliers will have much of a problem this weekend, but that rotation is a small question mark moving forward throughout the rest of the postseason. If there's a team that could surprise in this field, it's UNC Wilmington. The Seahawks are battle-tested and have a very good one-two punch on the mound with Batts and Ramsey leading the charge. They also have a strong nucleus of hitters, along with a couple of big-time power guys in Molinaro and Dick. Virginia definitely has one of the easier NCAA regional fields, but perhaps a surprise could be in store? You never know.


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