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March 12, 1998

THE SLATE: Virginia (12-3 overall, 0-2 ACC) will head to Duke this weekend for a three-game series from Mar. 13-15. The Cavaliers will play the Blue Devils at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, then at 1:00 p.m on both Saturday and Sunday. Virginia will then return home for a single game against Coppin State on Tuesday, Mar. 17, at 3:00 p.m.

THE SERIES WITH THE BLUE DEVILS: Duke and Virginia have played 104 times prior to this weekend, with the Cavaliers leading the all-time series 61-42-1. Since Dennis Womack took over as head coach at UVa in 1981, Virginia stands 27-16 against the Blue Devils. The teams split a pair of games in Charlottesville last season, with the Duke winning a third meeting during the ACC Tournament. The last time the teams met in Durham, in 1996, Duke won two out of three games.

ON THE MOUND: Sophomore righthander Casey Kennedy (3-1, 3.56 ERA) is scheduled to pitch for the Cavaliers against Duke in the first game of the series on Mar. 13. Freshman lefthander Greg Withelder (1-1, 3.66 ERA) will then start against the Blue Devils in the second game on Mar. 14. In the final game of the series, junior lefthander Javier Lopez (3-0, 5.13 ERA) will take the mound for Virginia.

A TOUGH ROAD: The Cavaliers will continue their difficult early-season schedule with this weekend’s trip to Duke. And, as has been the case in UVa’s previous road trips, the Cavaliers are once again playing against a ranked opponent. The Blue Devils are currently ranked 21st in the nation by Collegiate Baseball and 25th by USA Today. All five games Virginia has played on the road thus far have also been against teams ranked in the nation’s top 25. The Cavaliers opened the season at Rice (No. 4 Baseball America, No. 8 USA Today, No. 4 Collegiate Baseball), while also facing South Alabama (No. 20 USA, No. 19 CB) and Oklahoma State (No. 15 BA, No. 11 USA, No. 7 CB) in neutral site games. Virginia also played a pair of games at Georgia Tech (No. 18 BA, No. 24 CB) last weekend

VIRGINIA SWEEPS TWO GAMES FROM LIBERTY: The Cavaliers won two games from Liberty earlier this week, downing the Flames by scores of 11-8 and 8-4. In the first game, played in Lynchburg, Liberty held an 8-2 lead before UVa rallied for nine runs in the top of the seventh inning to come from behind for the victory. Josh Bowling led the Cavalier offense, going 2-for-4 with a key two-run single in the seventh. The second game, played in Charlottesville, saw Kevin Shrout allow only three earned runs and five hits in seven innings while striking out 10. Javier Lopez went 2-for-4 with a triple and two RBI to lead the offense in the second game.

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.

SHROUT CONTINUES TO IMPRESS ON THE MOUND: Sophomore righthander Kevin Shrout, who has pitched both as a starter and in relief, has been one of the Cavaliers’ top pitchers this season. Against Liberty, in his first start of the season, he allowed only three earned runs and five hits in seven innings of work while striking out a career-high 10 batters. In his previous two appearances, against Georgia Tech and William & Mary, Shrout threw 3-1/3 innings without allowing a baserunner and striking out four. For the season, Shrout now stands 3-0 with one save, a 2.29 earned run average and a team-best 25 strikeouts in 19-2/3 innings. During his two year career, Shrout has a 3.25 ERA and has not allowed a home run in 52-2/3 innings.

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 5.13 earned run average, to go along with 23 strikeouts in 26-1/3 innings. Lopez has also come up big at the plate, leading the team in home runs with seven and in runs batted in with 18. Lopez is batting .339 on the season, with a .409 on-base percentage and a .763 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 ranks second on the team with a .344 batting average, while ranking third on the squad in runs batted in with 15. He had an eight-game hitting streak snapped in the final game at Georgia Tech last weekend and has at least one hit in 12 of the Cavaliers’ 15 games. During his four year career, Gilleland now has a total of 138 RBI to rank sixth all-time at UVa. He needs to drive in 29 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 3-0 with a 5.13 ERA and 23 strikeouts. Combined, the Cavaliers’ top three starting pitchers stand 7-2 on the season with a 4.13 earned run average and 61 strikeouts in 76-1/3 innings.

HOME SWEET HOME: The Cavaliers are once again on their way to having a very successful record at home this season, winning all nine games they have played thus far at UVa Field. In fact, UVa has won its last 13 home games since losing to Duke on Apr. 25, 1997. The Cavaliers’ success at home should come as no surprise, as they have 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 47-13 at home over the last three seasons.

SHERLOCK STAYS HOT: Senior third baseman Brian Sherlock has been one of the main reasons for the Cavaliers’ success so far this season. He currently leads all UVa players with a .380 batting average, while ranking second on the squad in both home runs (five) and runs batted in (17). Sherlock also carries an impressive .820 slugging percentage into the weekend, a mark which also leads the team. He has been impressive over the last two games, going 3-for-6 with a double and two RBI in the two wins over Liberty.

BULLPEN COMING UP BIG: Over the first 15 games of the season, the Virginia bullpen has done an excellent job of shutting down the opponents’ bats. This was especially apparent in the two wins over Liberty, in which Cavalier relievers pitched 5-1/3 innings and allowed no runs and only three hits while striking out eight batters. In the first game with the Flames, Bradley Nuckols threw 1-1/3 innings before Tim LaVigne came in to pitch the final two innings and pick up the save. In the second game with Liberty, both Brandon Creswell and Tommy Keiper tossed one inning each. Each of the four UVa relievers recorded two strikeouts in his appearance.

LAST YEAR’S GAMES WITH DUKE: During the regular season, Virginia split a pair of games with Duke (with the final game of the series being rained out). In the opener, Duke pitchers Clayton Connor and Stephen Cowie combined to allow the Cavaliers only one run on nine hits as the Blue Devils won 4-1. Virginia came back to claim a 3-0 victory in the second game, as Casey Kennedy tossed a four-hit shutout and Ted Kinsman drove in two runs. In the series finale, the Cavaliers held a 4-0 lead with two outs in the bottom of the third inning when the game was called. The teams would later meet in the ACC Tournament, with the Blue Devils posting a 16-3 victory.

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 .257 batting average on the season. Three Cavaliers (Tommy Keiper, Tim LaVigne 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 8-for-15 (.533) 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…Ryan Gilleland has been impressive with runners in scoring position this year, going 9-for-16 (.563).

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