Who’s the Pack playing?
Mascot: Fashionable Swashbucklers | School Location: Charlottesville, VA | Conference: ACC
2020 Record: 10-3 (0-0, T-1st Coastal) | 2020 RPI Rank: 104
2019 Record: 33-24 (14-16, 5th Coastal) | 2019 RPI Rank: 49
2018 Record: 29-25 (12-18, 5th Coastal) | 2018 RPI Rank: 83
When? Where? How do I watch?
Location: Davenport Field at Disharoon Park (Charlottesville, VA)
Game Time(s): Friday, Mar 6 @ 4:00 pm | Saturday, Mar 7 @ 1:00pm | Sunday, Mar 8 @ 3:00pm
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Tell me about this team
I was pretty bullish about Virginia in the preseason, and I’m sticking with that assertion. Granted, the Cavs have only played one team with a pulse so far this year (Oklahoma to open the year), and they lost two of three in that series (but did take the opener, 6-0) on a neutral field. Still, after a couple of down years, the team has restocked on talent to the point where they’re ready to break back into NCAA Regional play for the first time since 2017.
Most of the reason for remaining optimistic about the Wahoos is due to their 1-2 starting pitching punch of RHPs JR Griff McGarry and SO Mike Vasil that couple with a two-headed beast of a bullpen back end. Overall, the pitching staff has a 3.38 ERA and 1.35 WHIP while holding opponents to a slash line of .224/.328/.329, allowing just 30 extra-base hits in 13 games. They’ve also struck out 152 opposing hitters in 117.0 innings while walking 58. The coaches are trying to work a deeper overall pitching staff this year, too, having already used 18 pitchers this season.
The hitters have done their job thus far, as well, albeit against a weaker schedule. Virginia has established a pretty steady 1-8 and really just alternate on one lineup spot. As a team, they’re slashing a solid .303/.410/.494 with 47 extra-base hits and an impressive 64:79 BB:K ratio. Not typically a run-happy team historically under Brian O’Connor, this year’s Wahoo edition is a little more aggressive, already posting 21 steals (on 25 attempts) in their 13 games. That average per game is bound to come down, though, as the team enters ACC play.
There are future MLB Draft selections littered throughout the entire Virginia roster, and that talent is going to show itself more and more as the season progresses.
Who’s on the mound for these guys?
Friday: RHP Griff McGarry (JR)
Saturday: RHP Mike Vasil (SO)
Sunday: LHP Nate Savino (FR)
CF Chris Newell (FR) - .410/.574/.718, 39 AB, 4 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 14 R, 13 RBI, 10 BB, 14 K, 6-6 SB. Absolutely killing it right now. Has the desired size (6’3, 200) as a lefty hitter to go along with the skills. He’ll blow away that 37th round selection out of high school come the 2022 draft.
3B Zack Gelof (SO) - .348/.492/.717, 46 AB, 4 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 18 R, 13 RBI, 10 BB, 12 K, 2-4 SB. Was a 38th round draft pick out of high school in 2018, but if he keeps up what he’s been doing so far this year, he’s going to be a very high pick next year. Went 6-for-13 against State in last year’s series.
LF Brendan Rivoli (JR) - .353/.439/.412, 34 AB, 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 5 R, 8 RBI, 4 BB, 3 K, 2-2 SB. Injured his left shoulder in last Friday’s game and hasn’t played since. Not sure if he’ll suit up in this one or not, but he’s a super productive hitter when healthy.
SS Nic Kent (SO) - .314/.426/.412, 51 AB, 2 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 13 R, 7 RBI, 8 BB, 8 K, 3-3 SB. Freshman All-American last year and an all-around solid player. Don’t know if he’ll be as high of a draft pick as Morris, but he’s certainly a faster player with more pop in the bat - just not as smooth defensively.
C Logan Michaels (SR) - .311/.373/.489, 45 AB, 5 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 10 R, 12 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K, 0-0 SB. Former JUCO transfer who has good contact skills, but not a lot of patience at the plate. Showing a lot more pop this year, but remarkably similar batting average (.311 also last year) and on-base (.373 OBP last year) skills from a year ago.
2B Max Cotier (FR) - .308/.379/.519, 52 AB, 2 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 13 R, 10 RBI, 6 BB, 8 K, 2-2 SB. Has made some typical freshman looking plays in the field, but should develop into an excellent defensive player. His bat has certainly not lacked at all early on. Good contact skills and speed.
RHP Griff McGarry (JR) - 3-0, 1.12 ERA/0.94 WHIP/.078 OBA, 16.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 11 BB, 26 K. A former highly-rated MLB prospect out of high school, McGarry has fantastic stuff from a four-pitch arsenal, but struggles with consistency, both with mechanics and results. Started the opener against State last year (4.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 8 K).
RHP Mike Vasil (SO) - 2-0, 2.25/1.31/.246, 16.0 IP, 14 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 7 BB, 17 K. Another former top prep MLB prospect, the control has been much better so far this year. The stuff is great from his big frame. He’s a high-floor prospect who will be a 1st or 2nd rounder in 2021. Also started the Saturday game last year against State (4.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K).
RHP Nate Savino (FR) - 0-0, 4.05/1.35/.192, 6.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 8 K. Well, hot dang - whaddyaknow?! It’s 3-for-3 on former elite-level prep prospects who somehow found their way to campus at UVa. Savino was the 2019 Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year and a member of the USA Baseball 18U National Team. This kid is legit. They’re slowly bringing him along, but had his longest outing last weekend (4.0 IP) as they continue to stretch him out.
LHP Andrew Abbott (JR) - 3-0, 0 SV, 0.00/0.80/.088, 10.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 20 K. The go-to arm out of the bullpen for this squad. Played with Patrick Bailey on the USA Collegiate National Team last year. Mixes his low-to-mid 90’s fastball with a devastating hard curve that has crazy movement.
RHP Stephen Schoch (SR) - 0-1, 4 SV, 2.53/0.75/.150, 10.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 20 K. Graduate transfer from UMBC (bet Virginia fans love that) after starting his career at Appalachian State. Looks like a big ol’ mountain man (6’5, 235) with his beard and hair flow. Throws from a deceptive sidearm slot, but he’s not a typical gimmick pitcher.
RHP Blake Bales (JR) - 2-0, 0 SV, 1.80/1.20/.176, 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K. Another big righty (6’5, 235). The former JUCO transfer is taking on a bigger role in the staff this year, but walks were an issue last year. Nothing “wow” worthy in his stuff, which pisses you off when he gets outs.
RHP Kyle Whitten (JR) - 0-0, 0.00/1.27/.242, 8.2 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 8 K. Last year’s closer (9 SV), relies on a very good curve as his out pitch. Made two appearances against State last year (total: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K), including earning the save in UVa’s lone win.
Quick! Fun Facts!
Virginia had a ridiculous run from 2009 to 2015. Over those seven seasons, they made six Super Regionals and four College World Series appearances, including winning it all in 2015.
That being said, the 2014 team still might have been the best overall team in Virginia history.
Despite sharing a border, the Virginia baseball team doesn’t have a single player from the state of North Carolina.
NC State leads the all-time series between the two schools by a tally of 119-78-1.
This is going to easily be the best all-around team that State has faced this year. That goes doubly true for the pitching. The Wolfpack will need to be patient against McGarry and try to let him work his own way into counts that are advantageous for State’s hitters, while also working his way out of the game with a high pitch count. Against the other pitchers will just be a matter of winning the individual battles pitch by pitch and taking what’s available.
Outcome: NC State drops the Friday opener, but comes back to win Saturday and Sunday to take the series.