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Feb. 25, 1998

THE SLATE: Virginia (6-1 overall) will conclude its current seven-game homestand this weekend. UVa plays host to Seton Hall in a three-game series on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 28 and Mar. 1. The Cavaliers and the Pirates will play a doubleheader at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, followed by a single game at 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. After this weekend’s games, Virginia will hit the road to play Radford at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Mar. 3.

THE SERIES WITH THE PIRATES: Virginia and Seton Hall have played on 36 previous occasions, with the Cavaliers leading the all-time series 20-15-1. The Cavaliers had won seven straight games against the Pirates before Seton Hall posted a 13-6 win in the finale of last year’s three-game set. The schools first met on Mar. 26, 1982, with Seton Hall winning 16-11, and have played in 13 of the past 16 seasons. Every game in the series has been played in Charlottesville.

ON THE MOUND: Sophomore righthander Casey Kennedy is scheduled to take the mound for the Cavaliers in the first game of the doubleheader with Seton Hall on Feb. 28, with freshman lefthander Greg Withelder slated to pitch in the nightcap. In the final game of the series with the Pirates on Mar. 1, junior lefthander Javier Lopez will take the mound for Virginia.

VIRGINIA RALLIES PAST VMI: The Cavaliers twice rallied from four-run deficits to post a 13-7 victory at UVa Field, in a game which was halted after seven and one half innings due to darkness. Brian Sherlock led the Virginia offense, going 3-for-4 with a triple and two RBI. Ryan Gilleland had a pair of doubles in the game, while Luis Giraldo recorded a single and a triple. Tommy Keiper picked up his first collegiate victory, tossing three innings and allowing only one hit and one unearned run. Bradley Nuckols also pitched well in relief, pitching two scoreless innings and striking out five without allowing a hit.

CAVALIERS SWEEP SERIES WITH PENN STATE: Virginia won all three of its games last week, sweeping a three-game set from Penn State at UVa Field. The Cavaliers won the opening game 5-2 behind the strong play of Brian Sherlock, who went 3-for-4 with two homers and four RBI. In the second game Virginia posted a 9-2 victory, with Kevin Shrout earning the win as he threw 3-2/3 innings of scoreless relief without allowing a hit. In the finale, Josh Bowling went 2-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI as the Cavaliers posted an 8-4 win.

PITCHING STAFF LOOKS SOLID: Last weekend the top three starters for the Cavaliers once again came through with a number of excellent performances. In the opening game against Penn State, sophomore righthander Casey Kennedy improved his record to 2-0 as he allowed two runs on eight hits in seven innings of work while striking out five. Junior lefthander Javier Lopez also came up big in the final game against the Nittany Lions, going seven innings and striking out a career-high 11 batters while allowing two runs on six hits. Freshman lefthander Greg Withelder started in the other game against Penn State and lasted only 4-1/3 innings, but he allowed only one run on four hits while striking out five. Combined, the Cavaliers’ top three starting pitchers stand 4-0 on the season with a 2.20 earned run average and 33 strikeouts in 41 innings.

SHERLOCK PLAYING WELL ALL-AROUND: Senior third baseman Brian Sherlock has been one of the main reasons for the Cavaliers’ success so far in the 1998 season. He is currently batting .400 with a team-best eight runs batted in. Sherlock is also tied for the team-lead in home runs with three. In Wednesday’s victory over VMI, Sherlock went 3-for-4 with a triple, two RBI and two runs scored. He has also provided an outstanding defensive presence at the hot corner, handling 29 chances this season without making an error. Sherlock currently has six putouts and 23 assists on the year.

LOPEZ DOING IT ALL: Junior Javier Lopez has been one of the most valuable players for the Cavaliers so far this season, making important contributions both at the plate and on the mound. As a pitcher Lopez stands 2-0 on the year with a 1.98 earned run average, to go along with a team-best 15 strikeouts. He registered 11 of those strikeouts against Penn State last Sunday to set a career-high. Lopez is also one of the teams’ top offensive threats, as he is batting .286 with three home runs and five runs batted in. During his UVa career Lopez has made a habit of getting of to fast starts at the plate, so his success so far this season should come as no surprise. Of the 11 home runs Lopez has hit while at Virginia, seven have come in the month of February.

LAST YEAR’S GAMES WITH SETON HALL: The Cavaliers came from behind late in the game in both ends of a doubleheader, to win the first two games of last year’s series with Seton Hall 11-10 and 5-4. In the finale, the Pirates handed Virginia its first loss of the year in a 13-6 game. Javier Lopez hit a pair of home runs in the first game of the series, while Tim LaVigne picked up victories in relief in both of the Cavaliers’ wins.

PLAYING BIG AGAINST THE PIRATES: A number of current Cavaliers have put up impressive numbers against Seton Hall during the course of their collegiate careers. Ryan Gilleland stands 11-for-31 (.355) with seven runs batted in and at least one hit in eight out nine games against the Pirates over the last three years. Brian Sherlock has also come up big against Seton Hall at the plate, going 10-for-25 (.400) with three doubles and three RBI. Javier Lopez, who has played in only three games against the Pirates, has also done a good deal of damage with a .364 (4-for-11) average, two home runs and four RBI. On the mound, Tim LaVigne has made a pair of stellar relief performances against Seton Hall, picking up two wins and striking out five while allowing no runs and two hits in three innings of work.

HOME SWEET HOME: The Cavaliers are once again on their way to having a very successful record at home this season, winning all four games they have played thus far at UVa Field. This should come as no surprise, as Virginia has had impressive home records each of the last two seasons. Virginia had a mark of 17-7 at home in 1997, with seven of its 10 ACC victories coming at UVa field (the Cavaliers went 7-4 in ACC home games). In 1996, the Cavaliers had an overall record of 21-6 at home, including a 7-5 mark against ACC foes. Overall, Virginia now stands 42-13 at home over the last three seasons.

KENNEDY CONTINUES TO SHINE: Sophomore righthander Casey Kennedy turned in another excellent performance during last weekend’s series with Penn State. Kennedy threw seven innings in the opening game of the series with the Nittany Lions, allowing only two runs while striking out five. In his only other start of the season at Rice, Kennedy defeated the Owls by throwing a complete game six hitter in which he needed only 96 pitches. He allowed only two runs in the game, and at one point retired 10 consecutive batters. For the season, Kennedy stands 2-0 with a 2.25 earned run average. His 16 innings pitched are the most on the UVa staff, while he has held opponents to a .246 batting average.

GIRALDO SHOWING HE BELONGS: Sophomore Luis Giraldo has been very impressive at the plate so far this season, and is making it hard for head coach Dennis Womack to keep him out of the lineup. Giraldo, who has started at both second base and shortstop, went 2-for-2 in the VMI game with a triple, two RBI and two walks. For the season, he is now batting .625 (5-for-8) with a .692 on base percentage. With his fast start so far in 1998, Giraldo now stands 10-for-22 (.455) in his UVa career.

GILLELAND STILL LEADING OFFENSE: Senior second baseman Ryan Gilleland, who has been a top run producer for the Cavaliers throughout his UVa career, is off to another excellent start this season. Gilleland leads all Virginia regulars with a .414 batting average on the season, while ranking second on the team in runs batted in with six. During his four year career, Gilleland now has a total of 129 RBI to rank sixth all-time at UVa. He needs to drive in 38 more runs this season to become the all-time school leader, a mark which is currently held by Bill Narleski (166 RBI / 1984-87).

BULLPEN COMES UP BIG AGAINST VMI: A pair of Virginia relievers had stellar performances in Wednesday’s victory over Virginia Military Institute. Freshman righthander Tommy Keiper picked up the first win of his collegiate career, throwing three innings and allowing only one hit, one walk and one unearned run while striking out three. Junior righthander Bradley Nuckols then came in to pitch two scoreless innings to close out the game. Nuckols retired all six batters he faced in the game, striking out the first five.

BOWLING STARTING TO BREAK OUT: Sophomore catcher Josh Bowling has turned in some big performances at the plate over the Cavaliers’ last two games. He went 2-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI in the final game of the Penn State series, followed by a 1-for-4 game with two RBI against VMI. Although Bowling has not been known for his offensive prowess during his time with the Cavaliers, he has proven to be a productive hitter in games played at UVa Field. Since the beginning of last April, Bowling is hitting .346 (9-for-26) in home games with three doubles, a home run and 11 RBI.

KNOCKS: The Cavaliers have played solid defense so far this season, making only eight errors in their first seven games for a .970 fielding percentage. The school record for best fielding percentage in a season was set by the 1985 squad with a .966 mark … Sophomore Kevin Shrout was impressive in his 1998 debut, throwing 3-2/3 scoreless innings without allowing a hit and picking up the win in the second game of the Penn State series … Freshman Hunter Wyant hit a two-run triple against Penn State in the first at-bat of his collegiate career … Even though no Virginia player has more than eight runs batted in so far this season, there are 10 players on the team with at least two RBI.

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