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Baseball hopes for end to inconsistent play, pitching woes

The Virginia baseball team heads off to Durham, N.C. today looking to return to the win column against struggling Duke.

The enigmatic Cavaliers (15-18-1, 3-6 ACC) have been on a roller coaster ride in the past two weeks. They have beaten the likes of No. 1 Florida State and No. 18 Wake Forestbut have dropped six of the last 10 games, including a 16-8 blowout loss to Richmond Tuesday.

This weekend's three-game series against the Blue Devils (12-24, 2-7) provides the Cavs with an excellent opportunity to get back on their feet. Duke ranks near the bottom of the ACC in runs scored both for and against.

Pitching has been a problem all season for Virginia, which gives up 5.88 earned runs per game. The magic number for the Cavs seems to be four - they have won all eight games this season in which they held the opponent under four runs. Unfortunately for Virginia pitchers, the Cavalier staff has allowed four runs or more in 10 of the last 12 games.

Likewise, Duke has lost all but one of the sixteen games in which it has scored less than four.

"The game revolves around pitching," Virginia coach Dennis Womack said. "So if our pitcher walks out there and has a good start, we have a chance."

The Blue Devils present the Cavaliers' beleaguered pitching staff with an easier task than they have faced recently against FSU's and Wake Forest's sluggers. Duke's team batting average of .266 is the lowest in the ACC, and the Blue Devils have hit only 11 home runs all season.

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    "Hopefully we can have the attitude we did against Florida State," Marvin said.

    One of the pleasant offensive surprises for the Cavaliers this season, Marvin has vastly improved his batting skills from last season. After hitting only .185 last year, Marvin now leads the Cavs with a .387 average. With 16 RBIs, he has nearly doubled his total of nine from last season.

    Marvin had a career-high four hits in Tuesday's 16-8 loss to Richmond but said he was unsatisfied with his team's effort compared with the effort Virginia showed in the Seminoles series.

    Against Florida State "we played all out." Marvin said. "We can't just do that against the No. 1 team in the country. We have to do that against everybody".

    The Ashburn native said the Cavs must solve bouts with inconsistency in order to beat Duke.

    "We just have to go up to the plate with a good approach each time," he said.