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February 26, 1999

Cavaliers return home to begin eight-game home stand: UVa will play its first three of eight consecutive home games this weekend, hosting Seton Hall for a trio of games. The Cavaliers and Pirates will play a doubleheader Saturday with a single game Sunday. This will be the 39th all-time meeting between the two schools with the Cavaliers holding a 23-15-1 advantage in the series. Virginia has won 10 of the last 11 meetings after sweeping a three-game set last season in Charlottesville, where every game in the series has been played. Seton Hall won the first three meetings in the series, which began in 1982. However, since then, the Pirates have won multiple-game season series against Virginia only twice — taking two of three in 1990 and sweeping three games in 1994.

Seton Hall
1998 Record: 25-23
1999 Record: 0-3
1998 Final Rankings: none
Head Coach (Record at ODU): Mike Sheppard (844-431-9; 28th season)
Seton Hall-UVa Series: UVa leads 23-15-1
Last Meeting: UVa, 10-5 in Charlottesville (1998)

Monarchs nip Cavaliers in flurry of a game: With temperatures hovering around 30 degrees and light snow falling for most of the game, Virginia fell to Old Dominion 1-0 in Norfolk Wednesday. The game lasted just one hour, 56 minutes, the first nine-inning UVa game played in less than two hours since a one-hour, 59-minute game last season at Georgia Tech. A total of 203 pitches were thrown (102 for UVa and 101 for ODU) while no pitcher issued a walk. Only four times did the count venture to three balls and the two teams combined for just five hits (two for UVa and three for ODU). The game was decided in the bottom of the fourth on a ground out to second with one out and runners at second and third.

Kennedy not planning a trip to Vegas any time soon: Junior right-handed pitcher Casey Kennedy may be the most unlucky pitcher in the nation. Despite a by-college-baseball-means microscopic 3.86 ERA, the Boca Raton, Fla., native is 0-3 on the season. Wednesday may have been the low-point of his luck as a Cavalier. Kennedy went seven innings and allowed just one run on three hits with no walks and a season-high six strike outs. He even had a chance to avoid allowing any runs when a sacrafice bunt with runners at first and second and no out trickled right to him on the mound. However, he struggled to get the ball out of his glove and had to settle for the sure out at first. Kennedy leads the Cavaliers in starts (three), innings pitched (18.2) and fewest walks per nine innings (1.4). In his three starts, the Cavaliers have scored a total of four runs.

Pitching staff racking up the whiffs: Through 10 games this season, the Cavaliers have struck out 90 batters — an average of 9.4 per nine innings and 32 more than opposing pitchers. Sophomore Southpaw Greg Withelder leads the staff with 23 strike outs in 16 and two-thirds innings (12.4 per nine innings). Sophomore Brandon Creswell is second on the team with 20 in 17 and one-third innings (10.4 per nine innings) and junior Kevin Shrout ranks third with 15 in 11 and two-thirds innings (11.6 per nine innings). Reliever Jon Metzger leads the team in strike outs per nine innings with 19.3; however, he has only thrown four and two-thirds innings with nine strike outs.

Cavs slow out of the blocks: Part of the Cavaliers problems in scoring runs this season (3.7 per nine innings) has been their inability to get the leadoff batter on board. In 85 innings, UVa’s leadoff batter has reached safely just 19 times (22 percent). Meanwhile, opponents have put their leadoff batter on the paths in 40 of 86 innings (47 percent).

UVa experiencing scoring drought: With only 35 runs in 10 games, the Cavaliers rank last in the ACC in runs scored per game. More than a third of UVa’s runs (12) came in a victory over Oklahoma. Take away that game and the Wahoos are scoring a paltry 2.6 plate-crossings per contest. On top of that, UVa has scored in just 18 of 85 innings this season (21.2 percent). Only six times have the Cavs scored more than one run in an inning. Last weekend, UVa scored two runs in an inning twice and three runs in an inning once, doubling its number of multiple-run innings this season.

Withelder, Shrout establish personal bests: In the weekend of strike outs for the UVa pitching staff, two hurler established personal bests. Despite taking the loss in Sunday’s series finale, Greg Withelder had a career-high nine strike outs. It was the second time this season he has eclipsed his career best. Kevin Shrout came two strike outs shy of matching his career best when he had 12 strike outs in the series opener against the Nittany Lions. However, he amassed the dozen whiffs in just five and two-thirds innings of work — a career best for strike outs per nine innings in a game.

Benick’s hitting streak snapped: Penn State held sophomore first baseman/catcher Jonathan Benick hitless Sunday in four at bats. It marked the first time this season he had not collected at least one hit in a game. The eight-game hitting streak is a career-best, topping a modest four-game run he had last season at Auburn. During the streak, Benick hit .500 (15-for-30) with three doubles and nine RBI. Benick currently leads the team with a .441 average and nine RBI.

LaVigne working on saves mark: Junior closer Tim LaVigne is creeping toward the school record for saves. After notching three as a freshman in 1997, LaVigne led the squad for a second consecutive season with six last year. He added another save in the first game of a doubleheader against Penn State. His 10 saves ranks second all-time at UVa, just three shy of Todd Ruyak’s 13 amassed from 1989 through 1992.

    Player          Sv  Seasons    1. Todd Ruyak   13  1989-92    2. Tim LaVigne  10  1997-99    3. Greg Haden    8  1976-79

Should LaVigne lead the team in saves again this season, he would be the first Cavalier to top the team in that category for three consecutive seasons since Ruyak in 1990, 1991 and 1992. No other UVa player has ever accomplished that feat.

Creswell named ACC Co-Pitcher of the Week: Sophomore lefty Brandon Creswell was named co-pitcher of the week in the Atlantic Coast Conference for the week ending Feb. 14. The Southpaw struck out a career-high 11 batters in UVa’s 5-1 victory over The Citadel on its home field Friday night in first-day action of the Winn-Dixie Shootout. Creswell tossed the second complete game of his career and scattered six hits with only one walk. He held the Bulldogs scoreless for seven innings before giving up a scratch run in the eighth. Creswell struck out five batters in the final three innings to nail down his career high and the victory.

Benick named to all-Shootout Team: Creswell’s chances at all-Shootout honors were squelched when East Carolina’s Foye Minton hurled a no-hitter against North Carolina State in Game 8 Feb. 14. However, sophomore Jonathan Benick did display enough gusto on the weekend tobe named to the team. After blasting an RBI double off the right-center wall against The Citadel, Benick went on to hit .545 (6-for-11) on the weekend. With a hit in all three games, the first baseman/catcher has hit safely in every game this season. Benick is in his first season at Virginia after transferring from Auburn.

Withelder named all-tournament: For his two-run, two-hit performance over five innings of work against then-No. 32 Oklahoma, sophomore lefty Greg Withelder was named to the all-tournament team at the ACC/Disney Blast. The only Cavalier on the 11-man team, Withelder surrendered both runs and both hits in the first inning of Sunday’s game. He then pitched four innings of no-hit, scoreless baseball and picked up the first win of the season for the Cavaliers. Auburn’s Chris Bootcheck joined Withelder as the only pitchers on the team.

Season-opener streak snapped: All good things must come to an end, and for the Virginia baseball team last weekend was the time. For the first time in a decade, the Cavaliers lost their season-opener when the Jacksonville Dolphins downed the Wahoos 13-2 in first-day action of the ACC/Disney Blast. UVa is 8-1-1 in its last 10 season openers, which included a quaint seven-game winning streak and a nine-game non-losing streak prior to this season. In 1991, Virginia and Liberty battled to a 5-5 tie before darkness suspended the game. Ironically, the Cavs also tied their second game that season, again 5-5, this time to Radford. The Wahoos’ last loss in a season opener was a 6-2 defeat by VCU in 1989.

Floyd out for three to four: Freshman center fielder Mike Floyd caught a bad break in the third inning of the game against Auburn. The Severna Park, Md., native, who had already made one dazzling, diving catch in center the day before against Jacksonville, dove for a ball in the gap against the Tigers. Not only was not able to come up with another spectacular catch, he fractured two bones in his left hand (catching hand). Floyd is expected to be out three to four weeks due to the injury.

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