It may have snowed a few inches where you were the past few days, but this weekend marked the beginning of the Spring Sports. And while there were some impressive performances, most teams fared about how we expected. Let’s put a wrap on what we saw the past 3 days and what we are going to expect moving forward.
Couldn’t Have Said It Better Ourselves
Sometimes when you’re right, you’re right. Baseball gave plenty of validation to our preseason predictions in their opening weekend at East Carolina. Virginia did not take long to show the offense that Wahoo fans were looking forward to this season. Kenny Towns had not one but TWO grand slams for UVa in their opening 14-4 game against the Pirates. His 8 RBIs tied for the 2nd most in Cavalier history, only bested by Brandon Guyer’s 9 against Niagara in 2007. Brandon Waddell looked fairly solid in his rookie opening game, going 4.2 innings, allowing only 5 hits and 1 earned run with 5 strikeouts. Fellow 1st year Josh Sborz got the win in relief after Waddell got into a jam in the 5th. A little concerning was the 2 errors that lead to 2 unearned runs for ECU, but it was a mute point after an 8-run 7th inning. Game 2 Saw All-American Derek Fisher go 3-for-6 with a homer and 5 RBI and 1st year Joe McCarthy go 3-for-4, with 4 RBI in a 13-9 win. Scott Silverstein was decent, going 5 innings allowing 4 runs (2 earned) on 7 hits with 2Ks. All of Virginia’s 13 runs came after the 5th inning after ECU was on top 4-0. ECU tried to make it interesting in the 9th, tagging rookies Nathan Kirby for 5 in the inning before he was able to record the last strikeout. Whit Mayberry worked 2 2/3 getting the win, only allowing 1 hit and no runs. Virginia welcomes St. Peter’s to Charlottesville today for the home opener and then get a charged William & Mary team on Tuesday who took 1 of 3 from Clemson in South Carolina. Hoos will then get Toledo for a 3 game set this coming weekend. O’Connor will continue the pitching carousel with 1st year Tery Oest on the mound Monday and then Nick Howard on Tuesday who was supposed to start on Sunday before the game was canceled.
You Know It Was Going To Be Bad But…
Winning on the road in the ACC is tough. Winning at UNC, no matter how bad they are is darn near impossible. But to shoot near 60% all game including 57.1% from 3 and lose by 12 points is unfathomable. Still, that is what happened to UVa versus the Heels on Saturday as the dropped a 93-81 decision. What was most perplexing is that for really the first time all year, someone else dictated tempo against UVa, and just couldn’t miss, especially in the 2nd half. But beyond the final score was Joe Harris. He just cannot miss right now. Harris had 27 points on 10 for 13 shooting including 4-6 from 3. Nevertheless, Virginia’s injuries are starting to catch up to this team with Atkins and Tobey still out, which begs the question can the Hoos stay afloat in the ACC down the stretch. Next up is a date at Miami, then home for GT and Duke before it gets any easier. A win against either the Canes or the Devils will surely secure the Hoos on the good side of the bracket, but dropping more than 2 from here out would surely send them to the NIT, save a massive run in the ACC Tourney.
A Flair For The Dramatics
Two Cavalier Teams needed some extra oomph to secure victories this weekend. First off the Men’s Lacrosse team needed extra time to defeat Drexel 13-12. Matt White scored 11 seconds into the OT period to give UVa a ‘W’ in their opening game of the season. First year Dan Marino picked up the win in goal and set a UVa record with 15 saves. But while the win was good, unranked Drexel played way to well and took to many shots to send the warm-fuzzies through the Hoo faithful. Virginia will get 2 more shots this week to lock things down with a home game against VMI on Tuesday and a road game at Stony Brook on Saturday. It wasn’t exactly overtime for the women, but the #8 Women’s Lacrosse team went down to the wire at #6 Loyola, edging them 10-9. Dana Boyle scored her 2nd goal of the game with 5:29 to go, which proved to be the game winner. Casey Bocklet (sound familiar?) scored 3 goals and had an assist in a great opening win for the Cavs.
Here We Go Again
On top of the list of ‘teams that need some payback’, look no farther than the Men’s Tennis Team. Playing in the ITA National Team Indoors, the #1 Virginia Cavaliers breezed through host Washington 4-0 and ACC rival Duke 4-0 before catching a little snag in the semis against #4 Ohio State. The Hoos dropped the doubles point and the first singles match at the #1 spot to go down 2-0. Virginia used their depth to win matches at 6, 5, and 3 seeds to go up 3-2, but then Styslinger fell at #4 to even the match at 3. But Alex Domijan, the number 1 singles player in the NCAA, took his 3rd set 7-5 to break the tie and win the match for the Hoos 4-3. You know where this is going. Deep breath. Virginia will be in the finals tonight against #2 USC. Yes that USC, who has kept the Hoos out of the winner’s circle in 4 times, including the ’10 NCAA semis, the ’11 finals, and the ’12 ITA and NCAA finals. With maybe the Cavaliers’ strongest team ever (and that is a very bold statement), Virginia will need to figure out the Trojans because there is no doubt we will see this team again.
Around the Horn
UVa Women’s Basketball had a pair of setbacks this week with a 61-49 loss at Boston College followed by a home loss to Maryland 73-44. They have 4 games left in the season, but at 15-10, and 7-7 in the ACC, it might be the WNIT again for the Hoos as injuries start plaguing this women’s ballers as well.
Softball went 2-3 at the LSU Tournament, including a pair to the host team Friday and Saturday. They are 4-4 overall and will head to Palm Springs to play 5 against the heavy weights from the west.
The Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving teams will finish the ACC seasons in the next two weeks, with the Women’s ACC Tourney this week and the Men’s Tourney next week. They will be going for their 48th championships in a row (alright a little exaggerated, but you get the idea).
Virginia Wrestling finished their duals season splitting matches against Nebraska (loss) and Hofstra (win). They will head into the ACC tourney 16-4, and 4-1 in the ACC, and ranked 11th and having their best shot at a title in 5 years.
Hoo of the Week
Lots of individuals had great weekends. Joe Harris’ 27 points. Dan Marino’s 15 saves and W, Matt White’s OT winner, Casey Bocklet and Dana Boyle’s great day, Alex Domijan match winner, Derek Fisher’s 6-for-8, 6 RBI series. But we didn’t bury the lead. 2nd year Kenny Towns 8 RBIs on 2 grand slams was the best individual performance by far. It was only 2 hits (and he finished the series 2-for-8), but hitting them in the same game and arguably when the Hoos really needed the runs, is a feat upon itself. So congrats Mr. Towns.