Virginia Baseball Notes: Expected Starting Pitchers

Virginia
Nate Savino is expected to get the start for Virginia as it opens NCAA Tournament play. ~ Photo By Kris Wright/TheSabre.com

The Virginia baseball team practiced in Greenville, North Carolina, on Thursday afternoon ahead of its opening game of the NCAA Tournament against Coastal Carolina on Friday. After practice, Virginia coach Brian O’Connor announced that junior Nate Savino will get the start against the Chanticleers.

O’Connor noted the importance of the experience Savino has pitching in big games for the Cavaliers, including their trip to the College World Series last season. He explained that “when you’re playing a terrific opponent like Coastal [Carolina] and you’re in the NCAA Tournament you know you want to go with a guy that’s had a tremendous amount of experience.” In three appearances during last year’s NCAA Tournament, Savino pitched nine total innings and allowed just three runs.

O’Connor went on to mention the danger the Chanticleers pose on offense saying, “Coastal Carolina has always been multi-dimensional offensively. … They can handle the bat. They can run and steal bases. They can hit the ball out of the ballpark. And those are always dangerous offensive clubs to face.” O’Connor will go with Savino on Friday evening with the hope that he can provide a solid enough outing to get a win to start off the Hoos’ 2022 NCAA Tournament.

Savino had the most starts of any Virginia pitcher this year with 14, accumulating 71.2 innings of work and a 5-6 record. However, he has been somewhat inconsistent over the course of the season as exemplified by his complete game shutout of Duke in mid-March and then back-to-back outings a few weeks later against Georgia Tech and Miami in which he allowed 11 total earned runs in nine innings.

On the Coastal Carolina side, left-handed pitcher Reid VanScoter will start for the Chanticleers on Friday. VanScoter, the Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Year, has a 3.06 ERA and a 9-2 record in 14 starts. In 82.1 innings pitched, he struck out 80 batters, walked 22, held hitters to a .235 batting average, and allowed only two home runs. 

On Thursday, O’Connor was asked what stands out the most about the Coastal Carolina team both at the plate and on the mound. He immediately responded by pointing to the quality pitchers that the Chanticleers can throw against the Cavaliers saying, “they’ve got some very good arms.” But, as the Sun Belt Pitcher of the Year, VanScoter will undoubtedly be the key to Coastal Carolina limiting the Virginia offense.

Ortiz An Option?

Following the release of the NCAA Tournament bracket on Monday, O’Connor was asked about the potential for first basemen Devin Ortiz to return to the pitching mound for the Hoos. He responded, saying “yeah I think he’s always an option,” but quickly qualified that comment in saying that Ortiz would be “very limited this weekend” pitching wise after throwing in a scrimmage on Monday. O’Connor did note however that Ortiz is “doing everything he can to prepare himself” to pitch if called upon. Given the all-hands-on-deck approach that typically characterizes postseason baseball, it seems more than possible that Ortiz will be called upon at some point.

Ortiz has not pitched since April 6 against Liberty when he pitched 4.2 innings, struck out five batters, and allowed just one earned run on four hits and one walk. On the season, Ortiz has a 5-1 record, a 2.03 ERA, and an opponent batting average of just .158 in 26.2 innings pitched across nine appearances.
Ortiz was a major factor in helping Virginia make it to the College World Series last year as he won the Columbia Regional Most Outstanding Player award after hitting a walk-off home run in the regional final. In that regional

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