Diamond Scouting Report: High Point
May 08, 2012
Keith Werman and the Hoos hope to keep winning after the exam break.
The Virginia baseball team is coming off a nine-day break for final exams and will face the High Point Panthers on Wednesday night at 6 p.m. at Davenport Field, weather permitting. Prior to the exam break, the Hoos were on a roll with a first-ever sweep of Miami in Florida to extend their current winning streak to seven games.
Here is a brief scouting report on the High Point Panthers.
High Point Scouting Report
2012 Results to date: 23-24, 8-10 in Big South competition. Most recently, the Panthers were swept at home by UNC-Asheville last weekend.
2011 Results: 24-32, 9-18 in Big South competition and lost to Gardner-Webb in the Big South Conference Tournament 14-4 to conclude the 2011 season.
2011 Series with Virginia: Virginia and High Point were scheduled to play the last home game of the 2011 season at Davenport, but the game was cancelled due to field conditions and the threat of rain that day. This will be the first time that High Point has played in Charlottesville during Brian O'Connor's tenure as Head Coach.
Outlook: Coach Craig Cozart began his fourth year at the helm of the High Point baseball team in 2012 needing a major rebuild to his entire starting position players and pitching staff. New to the 2012 squad are 12 freshman and 9 JUCO transfer players to go with 14 returning Panther players, 4 of whom were injured and did not play in 2011. Naturally, all these new faces meant multiple lineups for High Point in the early part of the season and constant changes to try to find the right combinations in the field and on the mound. Only 3 of the top 11 hitters from 2011 are back for the 2012 season, and the returning hurlers pitched less than 20% of the High Point staff's 490 IP in 2011. The new incoming talent was rated very high by Collegiate Baseball and that talent addition has helped High Point to a better record so far in 2012 than 2011.
Pitching: The returning pitchers started only 11 of the Panther's 54 games in 2011, so all of the weekend starters are new this year. The Friday starter for High Point has been junior RHP Ryan Retz (6-2, 2.90 ERA, 68 IP) and the Saturday starter has been JUCO transfer RHP Matt Armstead (3-4, 4.31 ERA, 64 IP). The Sunday starter for the Panthers has been JUCO transfer Jacob Newberry (3-5, 4.50 ERA, 58 IP). The mid-week starting pitching against the Hoos will likely be JUCO transfer RHP Malcolm Clapsaddle (2-1, 3.47 ERA, 23 IP). The High Point team ERA is 4.44 with 181 walks and 312 strikeouts. By comparison, the Virginia pitching staff ERA is 3.28 with 145 walks and 373 strikeouts.
Batting/Fielding: Of the three returning position players from last year, Sal Pezzino (.362) started the first 40 games for the Panthers at either 2B or DH, but he has not played the last 4 games prior to High Point's nine-day break for exams and the three games at home this past weekend against UNC-Asheville. Except for Fridays when he pitches, Retz (.282) starts at 1B after playing CF most of 2011 and he leads the team in RBIs (32). Junior Scott Glover (.154) was the DH in 2011, but he has only started 9 games due to his low batting average after hitting .264 last season. So, freshman Cody Manzella (.188) has also gotten some starts at DH, but he is not hitting either. Freshman Ryne Rush starts at 3B and is batting .357, tops on the team after Pezzino, who is not playing. Starting at SS is JUCO transfer Willie Medina (.315), who leads the team in errors (13). At 2B is freshman Mike Miedzianowski (.202) and the starting catcher is freshman Josh Spano (.219).
Starting in the outfield is JUCO transfer RF Devin Bujnovsky (.238), freshman CF Dane McDermott (.297) and redshirt junior LF Sean Wilson (.301). As a team, High Point is batting .271, but the Panthers lack power and only have 3 triples and 10 HRs all year. In addition, the Panther defense has committed 58 errors that have led to 55 unearned runs in 2012. By comparison, Virginia is batting .302, tops in the ACC, and has 32 triples and 19 HRs. Defensively, the Hoos have committed 47 errors leading to 41 unearned runs.
Prediction: There is always a worry about how the Virginia baseball team will come back from a nine-day layoff. Will the bats be rusty and silent? Will the bullpen pitchers pick up their recent dominance where they left off? The Cavaliers know the goal that sits in front of them: finish the season strong and secure a host site for a regional in the NCAA Tournament. But looking ahead is not healthy so the coaching staff will focus on one game at a time and first up is High Point.
The interesting point about this game will be whether the Cavalier coaching staff begins to get the pitching rotation ready for the ACC Tournament this week or waits until the Maryland series next week. I think the coaches will wait until after the Georgia Tech series this weekend for those final pitching rotation changes, but I do think it's possible for Scott Silverstein to start the game against High Point on Wednesday, if for no other reason than to get his confidence back. If Silverstein does start this mid-week game, then it would likely mean he would also start the VCU final home game on the following Tuesday prior to the Maryland series and Kyle Crockett or Shane Halley might be inserted into the weekend rotation for GT and Maryland. Crockett has more playoff pitching experience than Halley, but having a trusted LHP for relief is such an important asset for the team, Halley might get the nod. The other option is to start Halley against High Point and move Silverstein to the Sunday start against GT and the last start against Maryland the following Saturday. This would allow Halley to pitch either in relief on Sunday against GT or start against VCU and, if he continues to be effective, to have him start the first game of the ACC Tournament. A lot of balls are up in the air for the postseason pitching strategy and, after the GT home series, a lot more information will be known for making those final decisions.
I think the Hoos will take care of business on Wednesday night, but it might take until the second time through the order for the fireworks to begin. All the pitchers should be rested and ready to keep the Panthers at bay until the offense gets back into gear.
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