The Virginia baseball team heads into Friday’s ACC series opener with Miami on a four-game winning streak.
By Sunday, the Cavaliers could be leading the wide-open Coastal Division.
UVa (21-13, 8-7 ACC) enters the weekend tied for second place in the division with North Carolina (25-9, 8-7). Both the Tar Heels and Cavaliers trail division leader Georgia Tech (22-11, 9-6) by one game. The Yellow Jackets face Boston College in a three-game ACC series this weekend, while North Carolina takes on Notre Dame.
The Wahoos won last weekend’s ACC series at Notre Dame by sweeping a Saturday doubleheader. Virginia followed that up with a 9-3 road win over James Madison on Tuesday and a 14-4 triumph over Norfolk State on Wednesday.
Virginia hopes to make it five wins in a row on Friday in the series opener against Miami, which enters this weekend’s series on the heels of a series win over Florida State and a two-game midweek sweep of Florida Gulf Coast.
The first pitch for Friday’s game is set for 6 p.m. at Disharoon Park. The game will be broadcast online on ESPN3.com.
The Cavaliers are expected to start Noah Murdock (2-2, 4.40 ERA, 47.0 IP, 16 BB, 47 Ks) on Friday in the series opener, while the Hurricanes will go with Evan McKendry (5-1, 3.91 ERA, 48.1 IP, 13 BB, 61 Ks). Virginia will start Griff McGarry (2-4, 4.34 ERA, 37.1 IP, 38 BB, 44 Ks) in Saturday’s game and freshman right-hander Mike Vasil (1-3, 4.95 ERA, 40.0 IP, 14 BB, 29 Ks) in Sunday’s finale.
Both pitching staffs are expected to be challenged this weekend. Miami and Virginia are the top two hitting teams in the ACC, with the Hurricanes batting .301 and the Cavaliers hitting .294.
Leading Virginia’s offense is Tanner Morris, who is batting a team-best .358, which ranks sixth in the ACC. The former Miller School standout moved into a tie for the national lead in doubles with his 18th two-bagger on Wednesday night against Norfolk State. The sophomore has recorded a double in five of the past six games and nine of the Wahoos’ 15 ACC games. Morris enters the weekend with a career-high 11-game hit streak.
Morris isn’t the only local product riding a hot bat for the Cavaliers. Freshman Nic Kent reached base five times on Wednesday against Norfolk State during a 4-for-5, four-RBI outing. The former St. Anne’s-Belfield standout moved into the team lead with 18 RBI and is tied with Cameron Simmons with seven multi-RBI games this season.
Miami is led at the plate by Raymond Gil, who is third in the ACC with a .373 batting average. The Hurricanes have three of the top 10 run producers in the ACC: Adrian Del Castillo (fifth, 40), Freddy Zamora (eighth, 36) and Alex Toral (ninth, 34).