Diamond Scouting Report: VCU
Apr 25, 2012
Chris Taylor and UVa try to take down VCU.
The Virginia baseball team got a win over a tough Radford squad 3-2 on Tuesday night at Davenport Field thanks to a walk-off hit in the bottom of the 11th inning by Nate Irving to score Mitchell Shifflett. Wednesday night, the Hoos travel to The Diamond, home of the Richmond Squirrels minor league team, to play VCU in the first of two games against this quality in-state team. The Rams come to Davenport on May 15th for the return matchup this season.
Here is a brief scouting report on Virginia Commonwealth.
VCU Scouting Report
2012 Results to date: 22-18, 9-12 in CAA competition. Most recently won two of three games at home against William & Mary this past weekend with late inning rallies in each win.
2011 Results: 22-32, 12-18 in CAA competition, and did not make the CAA postseason tournament nor the NCAA Tournament.
2011 Series with Virginia: Virginia pounded out 17 hits in a 14-3 win in Richmond last May. The game set a record for attendance of 5,413 people for a college baseball game played in the state. An earlier game in April 2011 scheduled at Davenport was rained out.
Outlook: Coach Paul Keyes began his 18th season at the helm of the VCU baseball team. Sadly for VCU fans, Coach Keyes took an indefinite leave of absence on April 13th for health reasons to begin a series of tests to confirm an early suspected diagnosis of cancer. Associate Head Coach Shawn Stiffler has been handling the reins of VCU baseball in Coach Keyes' absence. VCU lost three starting position players, including its top two hitters, from its 2011 team and two important pitchers, including one weekend starter. But a solid group of talented players have returned and VCU already has reached its win total of 22 games from all of last season.
Pitching: VCU had to replace its Sunday starter from 2011 in David Benson (4-4, 5.65 ERA, 63 IP) and a proven relief pitcher in Jonathan Watson (4-6, 2.91 ERA, 43 IP). But the Rams have junior RHP Kyle Haynes returning as the Friday starter and he is 2-4 in 2012 with an ERA of 4.45 in 62 IP. Their Saturday starting pitcher also returned and is a top pro prospect; junior LHP Ryan Farrar is 4-2 with an ERA of 2.84 in 66 innings of work in 2012. Until recently, the Sunday starter had been freshman LHP Heath Dwyer (3-3, 4.11 ERA, 35 IP), but he was replaced this past weekend by senior RHP Seth Cutler-Voltz (4-4, 4.44 ERA, 52 IP). For the Virginia game Wednesday night, Dwyer will be the starting pitcher. VCU's primary relievers have been senior RHP Kyle Pelchy (3-2, 3.63 ERA, 44 IP) and freshman LHP Matt Lees (3-2, 5.02 ERA, 28 IP) with junior RHP Blake Hauser (2-1, 2.57 ERA, 21 IP) acting as closer with 7 saves in 2012.
The VCU team ERA is 4.09 and the Rams have walked 105 batters and struck out 298. By comparison, Virginia's team ERA is 3.26 with 131 walks and 335 strikeouts.
Batting/Fielding: VCU lost its two top hitters from 2011 in LF John Lenherr (.353) and 1B Michael Cheatham (.324) plus starting SS Michael Caddell (.224). But all the other position starters have returned. Sophomore 3B Joey Cujas leads the team in hitting (.413) and RBIs (34). Freshman Victor Machin (.297) has taken over as the starting SS for Caddell. Junior Phil Weymouth (.253) returns and starts at 2B and redshirt junior Brent Mikonis (.274) has taken over 1B from Cheatham. The VCU catching position is shared between senior Nick Abrahamson (.175) and senior Kyle Sutherland (.132).
Senior Paul Nice (.304) moved over from RF to replace the departed Lenherr in LF. Sophomore CF Bill Cullen (.369) returns and is leading the team in hits (66). Redshirt junior transfer Taylor Buran (.287) starts in RF. Sophomore Chris Ayers (.293) is the primary DH and he also can catch if needed.
As a team, the Rams are hitting a solid .294 and their batters have been HBP (55 times) almost as much as Virginia's batters (71 times) in 2 more games. On defense, the Rams have committed 43 errors for a fielding percentage of .972 compared to Virginia with 46 errors for a fielding percentage of an identical .972 on 65 more chances. VCU doesn't run often on the bases and has been successful stealing 26 bases in only 38 attempts. The Rams' only real base-stealing threat is Cullen with 9 stolen bases in 11 attempts. Virginia has been successful in stealing 54 bases in 77 attempts with Jared King leading the way with 11 stolen bases in 17 attempts.
Prediction: VCU is another one of those above-average in-state teams looking for a statement win and the Rams are playing for a cause right now.
Shane Halley (6-1, 1.60 ERA, 33 IP) will start for the Hoos on the mound and the bullpen is really stretched thin. Halley pitched 6 innings and picked up the win at Duke in the first game on Saturday, so may not have much in the tank to go more than 3-4 innings tonight. With the loss of Whit Mayberry, the ineffectiveness of Joel Effertz and Barrett O'Neill recently and the limited use of Ryan Ashooh, Nathaniel Abel and Aaron Stull, the relief pitching corps (beyond the three weekend starters) is down to five pitchers including closer Justin Thompson.
I look for Silverstein to be the first guy out of the bullpen against VCU since he only pitched 2 innings last weekend and would have until Monday night to start at Miami unless coach Brian O'Connor plans to switch to Kyle Crockett as a starter in that series. Getting a large lead early would be very helpful to the coaching staff's pitcher squeeze problem in that O'Neill could pick up an inning or two, with Austin Young and/or Nick Howard taking an inning each if needed. Thompson may have to pitch also after 2.2 innings on Tuesday night depending upon the game score and situation.
This game is too close to call and depends on the Cavalier bats getting hot early and the stamina of the Hoos' limited relief pitching staff. Hopefully, a large crowd of Virginia supporters will be on hand to help lift the team to victory. See you at The Diamond.
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