The Jackets face a Coastal Division rival this weekend in the Virginia Cavaliers
. We went to Brendan the writer FromOldVirginia
for some input on the baseball program.
FTRS: How has the UVA pitching staff looked this year? Is the strength in the starting rotation or the bullpen?
Brendan: The starters are better because of Danny Hultzen and Robert Morey, but both can be a little thin. We're still not sure if Cody Winiarski is a dependable third starter or not, but we keep trotting him out there because we're even less sure about the other guys. The bullpen needs to develop some consistency. Kevin Arico is as solid a closer as there is, and there's every reason to believe the bullpen can be a big strength, but we haven't seen it week in and week out yet.
FTRS: UVA leads the ACC in fielding percentage... is there a weak spot in this defense?
Brendan: We wouldn't mind seeing a little better glovework from the left side of the infield. But for college with metal bats, it's not terrible, and they're still better than a lot of ACC teams.
FTRS: UVA lost their series with NC State last weekend... do you think the Wahoos will be able to bounce back against a team with even more firepower at the plate?
Brendan: Depends on that pen. Even though GT has the bats, I think our bullpen can shut down just about anyone when they're pitching at their best. But they can't be issuing walks the way they have been lately or they'll get burned.
FTRS: What in the world is a Wahoo?
Brendan: We're the Wahoos (or Hoos, usually) for the same reason GT teams are sometimes called the Ramblin' Wreck: It's in the song. "That good old song of Wahoowa, we'll sing it o'er and o'er..."
Where Wahoowa came from, there's no definite answer, but it doesn't matter - that's the way traditions are.
FTRS: Danny Hall was hired by Tech in 1994. Dennis Womack was a combined 8-23 against Tech from 1994-2003. Brian O'Connor is 12-6-1 against Tech and one of only three ACC head coaches with a winning record against Hall. How did O'Connor build the UVA program into an ACC contender?
Brendan: By being a much better coach than Womack, period. He came in and the impact was instantaneous. He won with Womack's players and now he's winning with his own. O'Connor never really "built" the program - he took what we had, turned it into an instant winner, and capitalized on the momentum.
FTRS: Assuming we sweep you this weekend, what does UVA have to do to get back in the hunt? Discuss the upcoming schedule.
Brendan: That's a bold assumption. But first off, you can have the #1 seed if you want. Take it. I'd rather be seeded 2 or 3. Why? Because the tournament groups the teams 1-4-5-8 and 2-3-6-7, and there are five good teams in the conference. Right now, that means GT, UVA, FSU, UNC in one group and Clemson, Miami, VT, NCSt in the other. I know where I'd rather be.
So "back in the hunt" to me means settling nicely into the 2 or 3 slot, and we're well set up for it if we take care of business. The bothersome part of the schedule is that Wake Forest and their fugly pitching staff isn't on it. That gives us a disadvantage relative to the other teams. But we've already taken care of FSU and Clemson, and there are so many of the conference's other top teams that have yet to beat up on each other. So even if we get swept (like hell) there are four series coming up (especially Murralin and Dook) that we should win, even sweep, if we're taking care of business properly, and that means being at least 16-11 going into the last series against Miami.
FTRS: If a Tech fan were to make the trek to Charlottesville for the weekend, where would he want to eat? More importantly, where would he find a good selection of beer on tap? (Winfield and Ted were in Charlottesville for the football game in the fall but don't remember what locales they hit up. All we remember is that it was cheap!)
Brendan: The advice that I (and many others to be honest) usually give everyone is this: Just walk up and down the Corner til you see something you like. It's almost impossible to do that and not be happy with the result. (That's the stretch of bars and restaurants on University Ave in the shadow of the Rotunda, if you're in need of a refresher.)
I would add that "cheap" more or less fails to narrow it down to a useful list. This is not an expensive town, something for which college students paying their way through UVA are very grateful.
- If you spend a weekend at UVA and don't get at least one meal at Littlejohn's, you're doing it wrong. This is a unanimous sentiment among all Hoos.
- Breakfast is good (and more importantly, cheapish and within walking distance of the stadium) at the Italian Villa.
- I've always liked the Biltmore with its outdoor seating area, cheap beer, and greasy food, but you have to duck down one of the side streets off the Corner to find it. If you go, and you decide you need to relieve yourself and choose to do so on the railroad tracks rather than the bathroom (you know, sometimes the lines get really long), let me know if you find my watch, ok?
- Lastly, because some people place a great deal of importance on this, cheap and delicious Chinese can be found at the Panda Garden.