March 9, 1998
THE SLATE: Virginia (10-3 overall, 0-2 ACC) will play a pair of games against in-state rival Liberty this week. The Cavaliers will face the Flames in Lynchburg at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Mar. 10. The teams will then meet again for a 3:00 p.m. game in Charlottesville on Wednesday, Mar. 11. Following the two contests with Liberty, Virginia will head to Duke for a three-game series from Friday through Sunday, Mar. 13-15.
THE SERIES WITH THE FLAMES: Liberty and Virginia have played 32 times prior to this week, with the Cavaliers leading the all-time series 17-14-1. Virginia has taken control of the series over the last few years, going 6-3 against the Flames since the beginning of the 1993 season. Liberty leads 9-5 in games played in Lynchburg, but the Cavaliers have three of the last five. The Flames won the last meeting in Lynchburg 5-4 in 1996, with UVa’s last win at Liberty being a 13-1 game in 1995. In games played at UVa Field, the Cavaliers hold a 12-5-1 advantage with four wins in the last five games. Liberty’s only win in Charlottesville since 1992 came during the 1995 season, when the Flames won 5-3.
TAKING STATE: Once again this season, the Cavaliers are off to a good start against in-state opponents. UVa has a 2-0 mark this season for in-state games, downing both VMI and William & Mary. Since the beginning of the 1996 season, Virginia now stands 25-6 vs. other schools from within the Commonwealth, including a 13-2 mark in 1996 and a 10-4 record in 1997. UVa has posted a 15-3 mark at home against in-state schools during that time, while going 10-3 on the road.
ON THE MOUND: Junior lefthander Javier Lopez is scheduled to make his fourth start of the season at Liberty of Tuesday. Lopez stands 3-0 so far this season with a 3.48 earned run average and 20 strikeouts in 20-2/3 innings. Sophomore righthander Kevin Shrout will make his first start of the season against the Flames on Wednesday. In five relief appearances this season, Shrout stands 2-0 with one save, a 1.42 ERA and 15 strikeouts.
CAVALIERS DROP TWO TO GEORGIA TECH: Virginia opened the ACC season with a pair of losses, dropping to games at Georgia Tech last weekend. In the opening game Ryan Gilleland gave the Cavaliers a 3-0 lead in the first inning with a three-run homer, but UVa was not able to score any more runs as it fell 5-3. In the second game the Yellow Jackets set a school record for most runs in an ACC game, as they easily downed the Cavaliers 27-4 in a rain-soaked game. The third and final game of the series was cancelled due to rain.
VIRGINIA DOWNS THE TRIBE: The Cavaliers scored at least one run in every inning en route to an 18-4 victory over William & Mary at UVa Field on Wednesday. The 18 runs marks the most scored by Virginia in a single game in over two years, since a 21-6 victory over Seton Hall on Mar. 3, 1996. Ted Kinsman led the UVa offense by going 5-for-5, while Javier Lopez was 3-for-4 with a homer and five RBI. Kevin Shrout picked up the victory in relief, throwing 2-1/3 innings without allowing a baserunner.
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 3-0 on the year with a 3.48 earned run average, to go along with 20 strikeouts in 20-2/3 innings. Lopez has also come up big at the plate, leading the team in home runs with seven while standing in a tie with Brian Sherlock for the team-lead in RBI with 15. Lopez is batting .320 on the season, with a .404 on-base percentage and a .780 slugging percentage.
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 year. Gilleland leads the Cavaliers with a .385 batting average on the season, while ranking third on the team in runs batted in with 13. He had an eight-game hitting streak snapped in the final game at Georgia Tech and has at least one hit in 11 of the Cavaliers’ 13 games. During his four year career, Gilleland now has a total of 136 RBI to rank sixth all-time at UVa. He needs to drive in 31 more runs this season to become the all-time school leader, a mark which is currently held by Bill Narleski (166 RBI / 1984-87).
KENNEDY CONTINUES TO SHINE: Sophomore righthander Casey Kennedy turned in another solid performance during last weekend’s series with Georgia Tech. Despite picking up his first loss of the season, Kennedy threw seven innings and struck out four while walking none and allowing five runs. Kennedy has now thrown at least seven innings in each of his four starts this year, with the five runs scored by Georgia Tech being the most he has allowed. Overall Kennedy now stands 3-1 with a 3.56 earned run average. His 30-1/3 innings pitched are the most on the UVa staff, and he also leads the team in strikeouts with 21.
PITCHING STAFF LOOKS SOLID: Even though they picked up a pair of losses in the Georgia Tech series, the top three starting pitchers for the Cavaliers have been a main reason for the team’s success so far in 1998. In addition to Kennedy at 3-1 with a 3.56 ERA and 21 strikeouts, freshman lefthander Greg Withelder stands 1-1 with a 3.66 ERA and 17 strikeouts and junior lefthander Javier Lopez is 3- with a 3.48 ERA and 20 strikeouts. Combined, the Cavaliers’ top three starting pitchers stand 7-2 on the season with a 3.57 earned run average and 58 strikeouts in 70-2/3 innings.
GIRALDO SHOWING HE BELONGS: Sophomore Luis Giraldo has been impressive at the plate so far this season, 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-4 in the second game at Georgia Tech with a double and a three-run homer. For the season, he is now batting .370 with a .455 on-base percentage. With his fast start so far in 1998, Giraldo now has a .366 average in his UVa career.
SHROUT CONTINUES TO IMPRESS ON THE MOUND: Sophomore righthander Kevin Shrout, who will make his first start of the season against Liberty on Wednesday, has been one of the Cavaliers’ top pitchers out of the bullpen. In his last two appearances, against Georgia Tech and William & Mary, Shrout threw 3-1/3 innings without allowing a baserunner and striking out four. Over his last three outings he has now struck out nine in 6-1/3 innings while allowing no runs and only two hits. For the season, Shrout currently stands 2-0 with one save, a team-best 1.42 earned run average and 15 strikeouts in 12-2/3 innings. During his two year career, Shrout has a 3.15 ERA and has not allowed a home run in 45-2/3 innings.
HOME SWEET HOME: The Cavaliers are once again on their way to having a very successful record at home this season, winning all eight 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 46-13 at home over the last three seasons.
SCHEDULE CHANGES: Please note that the game at Radford, scheduled for Mar. 3, was postponed due to the weather. The game will be made up on Monday, Apr. 20, at 3:00 p.m. The third game at Georgia Tech, scheduled for Mar. 8, has been cancelled. Those are currently the only changes to the schedule listed in the Virginia baseball media guide.
KNOCKS: Virginia’s pitching staff has held opposing hitters to a .258 batting average on the season. Four Cavaliers (Tommy Keiper, Tim LaVigne, Bradley Nuckols and Kevin Shrout) have opponents hitting under .200 against them … Javier Lopez has had a good deal of success against lefthanded pitching on the season. He stands 7-for-14 (.500) when there is a lefthander on the mound … Josh Bowling has come to the plate five times this year with a man on third and less than two outs. On all five occasions, Bowling has driven in the runner … Brian Sherlock and Ryan Gilleland have both been impressive with runners in scoring position this year, as Sherlock stands 5-for-9 (.556) and Gilleland is 8-for-14 (.571).