Diamond Scouting Report: Radford
Apr 23, 2012
Jared King and the Hoos eye a win over Radford this week.
The Virginia baseball team swept a double-header from the Duke Blue Devils last Saturday to win that important away ACC series two games to one. Now the Cavaliers return home for a game on Tuesday at 6 p.m. against the Radford Highlanders. In addition to being a key intra-state matchup, Tuesday's game marks another Werman family reunion since Keith's older brother Kyle, a Virginia baseball alumnus himself, is one of the Radford assistant coaches.
Here is a brief scouting report on the Radford Highlanders.
Radford Scouting Report
2012 Results to date: 23-16, 8-4 in Big South competition. Most recently won a conference weekend series against Winthrop two games to one in Rock Hill, SC.
2011 Results: 31-25, which was a record number of wins for Radford, 14-13 in Big South competition. Opened the Big South Tournament with a 3-1 win over VMI, but lost to eventual champion Coastal Carolina 5-0 and lost to Gardner-Webb 11-5 to complete their season
2011 Series with Virginia: In April of last year, Virginia defeated Radford 2-0 at Davenport Field on a 4-hit shutout by Will Roberts, Kyle Crockett and Branden Kline, who recorded his 11th save of 2011 in that game.
Outlook: In 2012, coach Joe Raccuia, a Radford alumnus, began his 5th season at the helm of the Radford baseball team. He returns almost all of his starting position players from the record-breaking Radford squad of 2011 and two weekend starting pitchers. He did lose starting 2B Alex Guerra and several pitchers from last year, but brought in some talented freshmen and JUCO transfers with pitching experience. The Highlanders are on pace to set yet another single season wins total in 2012 with 23 wins in hand and 15 games left to play this season. Also, the Highlanders could make some noise this year in the Big South Tournament as well since they were picked to finish third in preseason voting and are currently in second place only one game behind preseason favorite Coastal Carolina and one game ahead of 3rd place Liberty.
Pitching: Returning weekend starter junior RHP Eddie Butler (4-3, 2.32 ERA, 62 IP) has been the Friday starter for Radford. On Saturdays, RHP Tyler Costello (7-0, 1.95 ERA, 60 IP) has been outstanding and is one of three Costello brothers on the Radford team. The Sunday starter is senior RHP Mark Peterson, the other returning starting pitcher, who is 3-2 with a 4.72 ERA in 47 IP. The mid-week starters have been either JUCO transfer Keith Fritz (2-4, 8.81 ERA, 30 IP) or senior RHP Jake Palese (3-1, 5.84 ERA, 37 IP). Since Fritz pitched some in relief this past weekend, look for Palese to start for Radford against the Hoos.
The Highlander pitching staff ERA is a very respectable 4.35 and those players have walked only 114 batters while striking out 222. By comparison, Virginia's staff ERA is 3.33 and the Hoos have walked 130 while striking out 324.
Batting/Fielding: Radford hitting has improved tremendously in the last two years under the guidance of assistant coach Kyle Werman, who is in his second season as primary hitting and fielding coach. Coach Werman, who graduated from Virginia in 2005, started all four years at 2B for the Cavaliers after joining the team as a walk-on in 2002. His younger brother, Keith, has been the starting 2B for his four years at Virginia also, and their play in the field is very similar. But Keith will probably end up with a higher career batting average (currently .316 - 167 for 529 at-bats) compared to Kyle at .278.
Five Highlander position starters are batting more than .300 and they are senior LF Matt Hillsinger (.356), redshirt junior SS Jeff Kemp (.352), junior RF Cory Turner (.318), redshirt sophomore catcher Daniel Wright (.313) and senior 1B Matt Mack (.311). The rest of the infield starters are senior 3B Brett Mollenhauer (.270), and freshman 2B Josh Gardiner (.273). The other outfield starter is senior CF Josh Costello (.297) and the primary DH has been senior Carl Travers (.228), who also is the back-up catcher.
Radford's team batting average is an excellent .296 indicating there are no sure outs in the lineup. The Highlanders have hit 24 HRs led by Hillsinger's 8 dingers. In the field, Radford has been terrific, committing only 24 errors for a .983 fielding percentage.
Prediction: This mid-week game will be a difficult one for Virginia considering Radford's experience and solid hitting attack. The selection of the Cavalier starting pitcher presents a dilemma for UVa coach Brian O'Connor in that Joel Effertz was pulled after pitching to only three batters (and walking two of them) in his Richmond start last Tuesday and Barrett O'Neill has not been particularly effective his last two mid-week starts. In addition, the Hoos have to travel to Richmond for a Wednesday night game against VCU, so the team needs two quality mid-week starts from its pitching staff.
Both Kyle Crockett and Shane Halley pitched several innings at Duke this past weekend. With an extra day of rest due to last Sunday's game being moved up to Saturday and next weekend's games at Miami fitting the TV-delayed schedule of Saturday-Monday, then Halley and/or Crockett could get the VCU mid-week start. I have a feeling that Austin Young will start the Tuesday game against Radford with the hope he can go at least 5 innings and then turn it over to the bullpen.
A big lead by that time would be another luxury, but I expect this to be a very close game. I think the Hoos will pitch some key guys (like Justin Thompson and maybe an inning from Crockett unless he is starting Wednesday night) to win this game and keep building on the small amount of momentum the Hoos began at Duke on Saturday. Every game remaining on the schedule is important to building Virginia's resume for postseason play and Tuesday's game will be as tough as any game left on the schedule.
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