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Maryland-Virginia Border War Game 3: Winner Goes To Omaha

NCAA Baseball: Charlottesville Super Regional

 

7pm tonight. Rubber match. The last ACC game for Maryland in any sport, ever. Winner goes to Omaha. The weekend gave us a pair of great baseball games that epitomized college baseball, and I expect no less out of tonight’s showdown. I had the pleasure of watching these games in the belly of the beast AKA the UVA parents’ section, and needless to say my presence was known.

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Before I preview tonight’s game, I’ll bring you all up to speed with a recap of games 1 and 2:

 

Game 1: Maryland 5, Virginia 4

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As I mentioned on Friday, Charlie White needed to set the table for the Terps to have a chance, and he did exactly that by leading off the series with a double to left center. A sac bunt and an RBI groundout later, the Terps found themselves with an early 1-0 lead. After 1 run had scored via HBP, White further made his presence known with a filthy diving catch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first. He was able to quickly get the ball into the infield, where SS Blake Schmitt was able to hose UVA’s Mike Papi at the plate. If White comes up empty-handed on that dive, the Terps are probably sitting at home already.

– The Terps were able to string some hits together in a 3-run 4th inning and added another in the 5th to jump out to a 5-2 lead. Kyle Convissar laid down a fine safety squeeze in the 4th that scored a run and moved another eventual run into scoring position. Small ball at its finest.

– Convissar also worked a critical 16-pitch walk in the top of the 2nd. Although he didn’t score, Maryland was able to run UVA ace Nathan Kirby’s pitch count high and forced them to put in no. 3 starter Whit Mayberry in only the 5th inning.

– Mayberry shut down the Terps in 4.1 IP, only allowing 3 baserunners and no runs. Although UVA’s late rally came up short with a lineout in the 9th with 2 aboard, Mayberry did an unreal job of preserving the rest of UVA’s bullpen.

 

Game 2: Virginia 7, Maryland 3

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– This was a one-sided game, through and through. Maryland freshman Mike Shawaryn was able to limit damage in the early innings by stranding runners, but UVA eventually touched him up with a 3 spot in the 7th, pulling out to a 5-1 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

– Factoid: 17 hits is going to win you a lot of games.

– Maryland may have used 5 arms in this game, but were able to preserve the back end of their bullpen. The game was still in reach at 2-1 UVA when Shawaryn left the game, but head coach John Szefc elected to save names like Bobby Ruse and Kevin Mooney (who both pitched Saturday) for Monday’s battle.

– On the flip side of the coin, UVA brought in another one of their starters, Artie Lewicki, to finish up the last 3.1 innings of the game. Interesting move to use up another quality arm, although he only needed 38 pitches to close out the game.

 

Game 3 Preview (7 PM, ESPNU):

Most would think that Maryland would trot out their no. 3 starter Jake Drossner, but Szefc has other plans. Two words. Bobby Ruse. The stache man has been incredibly effective out of the bullpen all year, although he gave up a run in 1.2 IP on Saturday. UVA will pit Josh Sborz (4-4, 3.38 ERA) against Ruse. Sborz was in the rotation for much of the year before being sent to the bullpen in May, as he has a tendency to give out free passes. It should also be mentioned that 19th overall pick Nick Howard has not seen action for UVA yet, and I’d expect to see him on the hill at some point Monday. The same can be said for Drossner, as I don’t expect Ruse to go deep into this game.

 

This should be another tight game, much like Saturday’s. It’s especially important for Maryland to get to UVA early and force them to go to the bullpen. They don’t stand much of a chance if they trail late and Howard has the ball. They’ll get the job down though, and earn their first ever trip to Omaha. Stache can’t fail me now. Terps win 4-2.

 

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