No. 2 Baseball Starts 2010 Season Friday at No. 11 East Carolina
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – The Virginia baseball team, ranked as high as No. 2 nationally in the preseason, begins its 2010 season this weekend with a marquee series as it travels to No. 11 East Carolina for a three-game set at Clark-LeClair Stadium in Greenville, N.C. The teams start the series at 3 p.m. Friday and also will play at 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.
Live statistics for all three games will be available at VirginiaSports.com. Live streaming video, provided with purchase of a subscription through Pirates All-Access, also will be available through ECUPirates.com.
Virginia enters the 2010 campaign with big aspirations after winning a school-record 49 games, capturing the ACC Championship and making an impressive run to the College World Series last season. The entire starting lineup is back, as is much of the pitching staff. In all, 22 of the Cavaliers’ 29 letterwinners from 2009 are back in the mix, and UVa also welcomes 12 newcomers that comprised a top-10 recruiting class.
Virtually all of Virginia’s offensive production is back – 99 percent of the RBI-production returns, with 98.4 percent of the hit-producers (755 of 767) coming back. The Cavaliers hit .327 last season – UVa’s best mark since 1985 – and swatted 59 home runs – the program’s most since 2002. Dan Grovatt (.356), Jarrett Parker (.355) and Tyler Cannon (.351) led UVa in batting last year, and the Cavaliers have nine regular starters back who hit at least .292 last year.
With so many players back, Virginia has one of its most experienced teams in program history. The Cavaliers’ returning position players have combined for 920 career starts, led by senior shortstop Tyler Cannon, who has started 179 games. Ten players have started at least 50 career games apiece for UVa. Cannon, Grovatt (119), Parker (110) and Phil Gosselin (103) each have more than 100 career starts.
On the mound, UVa has to fill the holes of six pitchers who logged 226 innings and made 30 starts last season. Nine pitchers are back. Danny Hultzen (9-1, 2.17) and Robert Morey (3-0, 3.33) each had strong 2009 seasons and will anchor the starting rotation, but the third weekend rotation slot as well as several bullpen spots are still in limbo. This weekend, Cory Winiarski, a transfer from Madison Area Technical College, will get the Sunday start.
UVa had a 3.23 ERA last year (third nationally) and has the best ERA in the nation (3.13) over the last five seasons.
East Carolina is coming off a fantastic season of its own after going 46-20 on the way to the Conference USA regular-season title and an appearance in the Chapel Hill Super Regional. The Pirates return 20 letterwinners from that team and are particularly deep in pitching with 12 of their 15 letterwinners from 2009 returning.
Virginia and East Carolina are meeting for the first time since the 1999 season. UVa holds an 18-16 lead in the all-time series.