When Nathan Kirby throws out the first pitch to this afternoon’s 3 p.m. baseball game, the nation’s spotlight will begin to shift its beams toward Charlottesville.
The weekend has arrived.
The country’s best in baseball, men’s basketball and men’s lacrosse all on Grounds. All participating over the span of three days.
Brian O’Connor’s No. 1 Cavaliers kick it all off with the opener of a three-game series with Monmouth at Davenport Field.
Game two is set for 1 p.m., Saturday. Three hours later, the 12th-ranked UVa men’s basketball team will play for an ACC title when it takes on No. 4 Syracuse in front of a sold-out John Paul Jones Arena crowd. When afternoon turns to night, Klöckner Stadium will be the host for a men’s lacrosse battle between the No. 4 Wahoos and the No. 6 Orange.
“Certainly, it’s going to be an exciting weekend here with everything going on,” O’Connor said. “We’re certainly excited to be a part of that. Obviously, we’re all excited for what men’s basketball is doing. ... It should be an exciting weekend for Cavalier fans around these Grounds.”
O’Connor’s bunch is coming off a shocking 3-2 loss to VMI on Tuesday in which the ‘Hoos (6-2) managed just six hits and stranded the tying run at second base when Derek Fisher flied out to left field in the ninth inning.
It was the Keydets’ first win in Charlottesville since 1990.
“Their pitchers pitched really well,” O’Connor said of VMI hurlers Campbell Henkel and Taylor Edens. “Unfortunately, we hit a lot of balls right at guys.”
Whit Mayberry, making a spot start for an injured Artie Lewicki, took the loss despite giving up just one earned run in 3 2/3 innings.
“It was unfortunate we didn’t have more scoring opportunities,” O’Connor said. “We just didn’t do a great job of making an adjustment in the batter’s box. That’s what happens in the game of baseball.”
Added Mayberry: “There’s obviously things we could have done better. I believe our team will use this as a learning experience to play better on Friday. We’re looking forward to that.”
The Hawks (1-2) opened their season by dropping two of three to Florida Atlantic in Boca Raton, Fla., last weekend.
In its lone win, Monmouth got a complete game from senior Andrew McGee. The left-hander scattered four hits and an unearned run in the Hawks’ 5-1 victory on Friday. He struck out six and walked none.
For his efforts, McGee was named Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week.
McGee is expected to start today, matching up against UVa’s Kirby (2-0, 1.46 ERA).
Saturday, it will be Monmouth’s TJ Hunt (0-1, 9.00) against Josh Sborz (2-0, 0.00). Sunday it will be Jeff Singer (0-1, 45.00) against Brandon Waddell (1-1, 7.20).
Rounding the bases
Junior first baseman Mike Papi is the lone Cavalier to record hits in all eight games this season. He leads UVa in on-base percentage (.487) and runs scored (10). ... Since giving up eight runs in an Opening Day loss to Kentucky, Virginia’s pitching staff has allowed three runs or fewer in each of the last seven games. Its ERA in that time is a measly 1.43. ... Junior third baseman Kenny Towns enters this weekend batting just .091 and hitless in his last 11 at-bats.
Because of the men's basketball game against Syracuse, baseball parking on Saturday is limited to the Emmet/Ivy Garage.
Parking is available in the University Hall, McCue and John Paul Jones Arena lots today and Sunday.