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Cavaliers clash with in-state rivals in midweek matchups

Virginia hopes to capitalize on strong weekend performance

Coming into Saturday’s doubleheader against Notre Dame, the Cavaliers were desperate to improve on their recent play, having lost six of their last nine games. They left South Bend, Indiana Sunday afternoon with a large weight off of their shoulders, taking both of Saturday’s games 9-1 and 4-2, followed by the completion of the sweep of the Fighting Irish Sunday with a 5-4 victory.

Last weekend marked a major improvement in play for the ninth-ranked Cavaliers (18-8, 6-6 ACC) on nearly all fronts, particularly pitching. The pitching staff gave up just seven runs in the three game series, a marked improvement from their performance the weekend before in their home series loss to Florida State, the final game of which they gave up 15 walks. Virginia also improved its standing among the ACC ranks after the much-needed trio of victories, moving up from dead last to 2nd place in the Coastal Division standings.

The Cavaliers look to build on their strong weekend with their second consecutive five-game week, which they kick off with a set of midweek, in-state matchups at VCU Tuesday before coming home Wednesday afternoon to take on VMI.

Freshman righthander Derek Casey(1-1, 5.25 ERA) is slated to make his third career start against the Rams (15-11, 2-1 A-10) in an intriguing matchup between a Cavalier team — which has performed far better on the road so far this season — and a streaking VCU squad who has won five of their last six.

Virginia concludes their midweek play against a weaker Keydet (6-14, 2-14 Southern), who is scheduled to take on their other in-state ACC foe when they play host to Virginia Tech Tuesday night before coming in to Charlottesville.

One of the things Virginia hopes to continue along with its improved pitching is the outstanding play of junior left-handed pitcher/outfielder Kevin Doherty, who has emerged as one of the team’s most dynamic players. Doherty’s versatility was on full display during last weekend’s series at Notre Dame, the first game of which he started in right field, pitched the final three innings and picked up two hits. He followed that performance Sunday with another start in right field and a very important RBI in a game which Virginia ultimately won 5-4.

Doherty, whose level of involvement and leadership visibility on the team has increased in each of his first three years on the team, has a history of playing the whole field.

“My senior year [of high school] I played centerfield, mostly outfield, and first base — wherever they needed me.” Doherty said.

Sophomore RHP Alec Bettinger, the likely starter for Wednesday’s game against VMI, praised Doherty’s recent performance and emphasized the leadership role the Laytonsville, Maryland native has stepped into this season.

“He has a nickname on our team — ’our fearless leader,’” Bettinger said. “He’s come in the clutch so many times. It’s great to see him have success.”

Doherty and the team get started tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at The Diamond in Richmond. Wednesday’s showdown with the Keydets will begin at 4 p.m.


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