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Pitt Baseball Weekend Preview: No. 25 Virginia Cavaliers

Pitt Hosts First Conference Series Of The Season

2017 Baseball Field
Photo used with permission of the Pittsburgh Panthers athletics department

Pitt enters the second weekend of the conference season with a 10-6 record and an 0-3 record in the season after a series sweep at Miami. The Panthers play host to the 2015 National Champion Virginia Cavaliers this weekend. Coach O’Connor’s club comes into Charles L. Cost Field ranked 25th in the country and currently sits at 14-4 and 2-1 in the conference off of an impressive series win against NC State last weekend. This weekend will be the second straight weekend that the Panthers have faced a ranked opponent.

The Panthers will rely on their balanced lineup and starting rotation as they look to notch their first conference win (and hopefully more) this weekend. Through the first five weeks of the season, Pitt ranks fourth in the country in doubles with 46 and have an impressive 3.29 starters’ ERA.

In the other dugout, the Wahoos have been one of the nation’s leading offenses so far this season, ranking in the top 20 in batting average, slugging percentage, runs, and on base percentage. While their production comes from all parts of their lineup, Zack Gelof and Chris Newell have been the Hoos top performers. Gelof, Virginia’s third baseman, leads the team in home runs with five and is tied for the team lead in doubles with six. Newell leads the club in batting average and does so in the bottom half of the order. He is a speedy centerfielder who works deep into counts and steals bases (8-8 on the year), but he does lead the team in strikeouts.

Friday, March 13, 3:00 pm

Where to Watch: ACC Network Extra

Probable Starters: RHP Billy Corcoran vs. RHP Griff McGarry

Corcoran pitched well against a left-handed-heavy Miami squad last weekend pitching off his changeup and forcing weak contact against the power hitting Hurricanes. Virginia has more of a balanced lineup, so Corcoran’s ability to throw all three pitches for strikes will be the key factor for success in game one. McGarry is one of Virginia’s most experienced arms as he was in the weekend rotation last season and pitched in high leverage situations out of the bullpen as a freshman. McGarry is a power pitcher who pitches into the mid-90s. Control is his Achilles heel. He walked eight hitters in four innings last weekend, so the Panthers will need to show patience at the plate this Friday.

Saturday, March 14, 3:00 pm

Where to Watch: ACC Network Extra

Probable Starters: RHP Mitch Myers vs. RHP Mike Vasil

Myers comes into this weekend on the heels of a mentally tough outing. His stuff was very good early and he stayed around the zone all night, striking out eight and walking two over six and a third. However, Miami did the find the barrel on occasion and plated five against him to seal the series victory. Miami had success putting the ball in the air against Myers, so the colder weather could help him turn even more of those fly balls into outs. For Virginia, Vasil is another power righty, but that power comes from an even bigger 6’4” 225 lb. frame. Vasil is a very high ceiling player with a low-90s fastball and two breaking balls that have a lot of bark, but sometimes lack bite. Vasil should give Pitt pitches to hit and the need to take advantage because he is dangerous if you miss your mistake pitch.

Sunday, March 15, 1:00 pm

Where to Watch: ACC Network Extra

Probable Starters: RHP Matt Gilbertson vs. TBD

Gilbertson has been a welcomed surprise for the Panthers this season. The pitchability righty (a right hander who lacks power stuff but has the ability to throw all his pitches for strikes and keep hitters off balance) has forced a ton of contact and pitched deep into most games so far this season. The Miami game was much of the same, but Gilbertson suffered his first loss of the season due to getting behind a few hitters at the top of the order and throwing good pitches to hit in hitters’ counts. Gilbertson can certainly keep Virginia hitters at bay if he does what he does best, throw all pitches for strikes and get early contact.

Pitt will certainly have their work cut out for them again this week, but this weekend is a great opportunity to get the first conference series win of the season and gain some much-needed momentum as conference play rolls on.