ACC baseball tournament 2014: Maryland opens with game against Virginia

Maryland has a tough assignment in their first ACCT game in nine years: facing #3 ranked (nationally) Virginia. They'll need to bring their "A" game to beat the Cavaliers, but Maryland has done that time and again this season when facing top-notch competition.

UVA is one of the best teams in the country

Tomorrow at 11:00 AM the Terps take on the Virginia Cavaliers in game one of the ACCT for both teams. The Terps did not face Virginia this year in regular season ACC competition. Last year the Terps travelled to Charlottesville and took one of three from the Cavaliers.

 UVA (43 - 11, 22 - 8 ACC) is an exceptional team. They could very well win the ACCT. Their RPI sits at numero uno and they’re ranked as high as #3 in the national polls. The Cavaliers do everything well, have no real holes, and are a lock to host a Regional round. I’d be surprised if they didn't make it to Omaha.  

But in one game anything can happen, especially as the Terps will send out Jake Stinnett (6 - 6, 2.53 ERA) for tomorrow's game. Currently Virginia's coach has been coy about their starter in this game. The likely choice is sophomore LHP Nathan Kirby (8 - 1, 1.58 ERA). Kirby, who was co-named (along with Miami’s Chris Diaz) the ACC’s Pitcher of the Year, led the conference in ERA. Opponents are hitting just .180 against him, and Kirby has a 4.55 K/BB ratio. However the Wahoos may want Kirby to pitch against Florida State. In that case Virginia will send sophomore RHP Josh Sborz (4 - 3, 3.13 ERA) to face the Terps. Sborz hails from nearby McLean, VA and has been holding batters to a .198 average. However, he’s issued 34 walks and hit seven batters in 63.1 innings.

The Cavaliers may not be as powerful on offense as in previous years, but they do have some players who can swing the bat. First baseman Mike Papi, considered a late-first or second round pick in the upcoming MLB draft leads the ACC with 10 home runs. Papi is tied for the lead in RBIs with 47, and first in base on balls (50). Other notable Virginia batters include 2B Brian Cogswell (.291 BA) and right fielder Joe McCarthy (.308 BA, 15 doubles, 2 triples, and 5 home runs). Virginia hitters don’t strike out very much, with the lowest total in the ACC.

 Virginia has stolen only 57 bases in 76 attempts. But opponents have fared worse, managing to swipe just 18 bases in 35 attempts. Virginia leads the ACC in fielding percentage, committing a paltry 39 errors in 54 games. 

UVA may have the best set of relievers in the country. Their superb closer, Nick Howard leads the ACC with 17 saves. In 26 innings of relief work Howard has a 2.08 ERA, .170 opponents’ BA, and has struck out 48 while walking only nine. Pitchers such as Austin Young (1.37 ERA) and Whit Mayberry ( 1.73 ERA) are able to shut down teams until Howard closes it out. 

Last weekend the Cavaliers dropped two of three at Wake Forest, and Nick Howard uncharacteristically blew a save in game one of that series. Scratch in the armour or a sign of things to come? Stay tuned as we’re about to find out. 

Note: The game starts at 11:00 AM and can be heard on audio (WMUC.com) or live on Comcast Sports Net Mid-Atlantic. The full broadcast schedule for the ACCT can be found here .




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