Diamond Scouting Report: Towson
Mar 26, 2012The Virginia baseball team got tremendous pitching and some very good hitting over the weekend to sweep the Clemson Tigers 6-3, 5-1 and 5-3 at Davenport Field to raise their season record to 15-8-1, including 13-4 at home. Now the Hoos conclude this six-game homestand with two games against Towson University on Tuesday and Wednesday with both games beginning at 5 pm.
Here is a brief scouting report on Towson.
2012 Results to date: 12-10, 6-3 in Colonial Athletic Association Conference competition, most recently won two of three from Delaware in Newark, DE.
2011 Results: 26-28-1, 15-15 in CAA competition, Towson did not make the CAA conference championship nor the NCAA tournament.
2011 Series with Virginia: Virginia won both games in 2011 by shutouts, winning 6-0 behind Will Roberts and three hits from Chris Taylor, including 2 doubles, and then winning 5-0 behind Whit Mayberry and two hits each from Keith Werman, John Hicks and Ryan Levine.
Outlook: Coach Mike Gottlieb enters his 24th season at the helm of Towson baseball with a lot of position players and offense to replace from his 2011 squad. He does have two weekend starters returning and a good portion of his pitching staff, but 2012 will be another difficult year for the very young Tigers, who were picked to finish 9th in the CAA conference preseason poll, ahead of only Hofstra and Northeastern.
Pitching: Two weekend starters returning for Towson are junior RHP Michael Trionfro (4-1, 2.62 ERA) and sophomore RHP Chris Acker (2-2, 3.96 ERA). The other weekend starter has been freshman RHP Taylor Clarke (1-2, 3.58 ERA). The Tiger pitching staff ERA is a respectable 3.99 with 162 strikeouts and 77 walks, compared to Virginia at 3.29 ERA, 198 strikeouts and 77 walks. The mid-week starters for Towson will likely be junior LHP Mike Ryan (1-0, 0.00 ERA in 9 IP including one start) and freshman RHP Paul Beers (1-1, 3.55 ERA in 12 IP including one start).
Batting/Fielding: Towson lost most of its starting infield from last season plus four of their top seven players in terms of offensive production. Junior catcher Andrew Parker is a solid defensive catcher, but is batting only .197 in 2012 after hitting .304 last year. Freshman Brenden Butler is playing 1B and has been one of the bright lights for Towson, batting .355 in his first year. The only returning infielder is sophomore 2B Pat Fitzgerald, who is batting .244 after hitting .241 last year. Sophomore Hunter Bennett is playing SS and batting .197 in 2012 after hitting .357 in 20 games last year and playing in the outfield. Sophomore Zach Fisher is playing 3B and hitting .254.
In the outfield, returnee senior CF is Ben Winter, who is batting .238 in 2012 after hitting .293 last year. Sophmore Brandon Gonnella plays RF and is batting .227 after hitting .190 last year. Gonnella has also pitched in relief, but he pitched 5 innings this past Sunday against Delaware and is unlikely to pitch against the Hoos. Finally, sophomore Kurt Wertz plays LF and is hitting .364. The DH has been sophomore Dominic Fratantuono who is leading Towson in most offensive categories, including batting average (.413), hits (26) and home runs (3).
As a team, Towson is batting .271 compared to Virginia at .314, which leads the ACC. Several Hoo starters have been moving their batting averages up steadily, including Keith Werman (.306 after a fabulous weekend of hitting and strategic bunting), Colin Harrington (.288) and Chris Taylor (.290). Mitchell Shifflett (.360) continues to hit well and make sensational plays in CF, which has made the absence of Reed Gragnani more manageable.
Prediction: The Hoos are playing some of their best baseball as a team right now, so I think they will take care of business against the young Towson team in both games. As always, Virginia needs to show the visitors early that there is a talent difference in play at Davenport Field. I expect one of the mid-week starters to be RHP Barrett O'Neill for sure. However, one of these games could be started by Whit Mayberry on a limited pitch count to begin to work back from his sore arm. If Mayberry is not ready yet for a rehab assignment, then I think possibly RHP Nick Howard could get his first start to see how his 92-94mph fast ball holds up over several innings.
|Printer-Friendly E-mail this Article|