The Virginia Cavaliers (56-11, 22-8 ACC) took care of the California Golden Bears Thursday night to force a rematch with the South Carolina Gamecocks (52-14, 22-8) on Friday night. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN at 7:00pm.
I don't have much else to add to our preview from game 2 or our Q&A with Streaking the Lawn, but suffice it to say that it should be a battle. UVA is hitting .305 as a team with a 2.27 ERA and .214 BAA. South Carolina's marks are .297 AVG, 2.53 ERA, and a .227 BAA. In the first match up USC belted out 13 hits against the Cavaliers. UVA managed only 5 hits. John Taylor (7-1, 1.17 ERA) earned the win in relief of starter Colby Holmes. UVA starter Will Roberts (11-2, 1.79 ERA) was saddled with loss.
As of this moment, neither coach has announced a starter for Friday's match. South Carolina's Ray Tanner is will decide between ace Michael Roth (13-3, .97 ERA) and freshman Forrest Koumas (6-1, 3.07). Virginia coach Brian O'Connor will likely start either Whit Mayberry (5-0, 3.00 ERA) or Danny Hultzen (12-3, 1.41 ERA). Whit Mayberry pitched the final out in the 'Hoos' loss to the 'Cocks on Tuesday. Hultzen last pitched in UVA's opening game in Omaha verses Cal. He went 6.1 innings allowing 3 hits, 3 bases on balls, while striking out 6.
Cavaliers fans seem to like their chances in a second game versus us. You would too if you thought the only reason your team lost was because they played their worst game of the season and their opponent played its best. While that statement might sound a little outlandish, there is some truth to it. You have to give credit to the Carolina pitching staff for holding the 'Hoos to just 5 hits and to the Carolina batters for collecting 13 hits, themselves, but the 3 errors are uncharacteristic of a team that had a .980 fielding percentage heading into the game. Still, even with those three errors, the Gamecocks did manage to pound out 4 earned runs on the evening. Since 4 is greater than 1, I'm feeling pretty confident, myself.
All indications are that we'll see a good game of baseball Friday night. I wouldn't expect to see the Cavaliers commit 3 more errors, but baseball is a funny game. In fact, if Michael Roth starts for the Gamecocks the smart money will be on some type of shenanigans in the first inning. UVA is certainly capable of taking two in a row from the Gamecocks, but since our team colors don't include orange, I'm picking South Carolina to advance to the championship series.