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2014 NCAA Regional Preview: Charlottesville

No. 1 Virginia
One of the most tested teams in the tournament, Virginia (44-13) has played nine teams that made it to this spring’s field of 64. Ranked between from three to four in the national polls, Brian O’Connor’s team has been impressive, but saw their bid for the ACC title get cut short with a 6-4 loss to FSU on Saturday. Hosting this regional bodes very well for the Cavaliers, as they are 29-3 on their home diamond.

Sophomore lefty Nathan Kirby is the ACC’s Co-Pitcher of the Year, and should be a formidable force in this regional. He is currently has a 1.48 ERA and is 8-1 in 14 appearances, and threw a no-hitter on April 4th. In relief, right hander Nick Howard is stellar, with 18 saves this season.

If Virginia ends up facing Liberty this weekend, they will want catcher Nate Irving to repeat his May 7th performance against the Flames, where he had two hits and a RBI. He’s scored in 41 of the 46 games he has played in this season. Mike Papi, Jr. leads the Cavaliers with 10 home runs this season and 47 RBI, while sophomore Joe McCarthy continues to be a threat at the plate, having 64 hits and having scored in all 57 games he has played this season.

No. 2 Arkansas
The Razorbacks (38-23) fell to LSU in the SEC tournament semifinals, but are still a force to be reckoned with. Making their 13th consecutive NCAA appearance, they are currently ranked 20th in the nation.

Brian Anderson currently has a .311 batting averages, driving in 14 doubles and 49 runs this season. Also on offense, Joe Serrano has 21 multi-hit games this spring. Hitting leadoff, Clark Eagen has had a hot May, batting a .419 and with a .537 on base percentage.

On the mound, Trey Killian has a 2.18 ERA in 13 starts. Friday starter Chris Oliver has a 2.45 ERA and is 8-4 on the season thus far. Closer Jacob Stone has the most enviable ERA of all – a .99. (Yes, that’s correct.) Shutouts are the name of the game for the Razorbacks – they have nine this season, good for third best in program history.

No. 3 Liberty
Jim Toman has his Liberty Flames (41-16) in their first ever at-large selection in program history as they are cruising towards one of their best ever records. The Big South champions played seven teams who made the field of 64 during the regular season, including this regional’s Virginia, who they lost to 8-2 on May 7th.

Ryan Seiz was named the Big South Player of the Year, and for excellent reason. Possessing a .362 batting average with 12 home runs, he leads the team with 42 RBI. But it’s Ashton Perritt who has been peaking at just the right time at the plate. He has hit .378 in May, and leads the team in runs with six in the last ten games. He’s also always a threat to steal bases, with 18 this season. While his offensive game has hit new heights, his relief pitching has not been as dominant. Dalton Britt has also had great times at the plate recently – he’s on a five game hitting streak, with seven hits during the last ten games.

Big South Pitcher of the Year and likely MLB Draft selection Trey Lambert is solid on the mound, with an 11-2 record this season and a 2.10 ERA. He’ll start Friday’s game against Arkansas.

No. 4 Bucknell
The field of 64’s lone entry from the Patriot League, the 30-19-1 Bisons won their league tournament two weekends ago against Lehigh after earning the regular season title. They split a weekend series over Memorial Day weekend with Ivy League champion Columbia. Bucknell only needs one more win this season to equal their program best wins record, but that could be difficult to come by Friday: the Bisons are a woeful 1-22 all time against Virginia. Youth leads Bucknell – while this is the first NCAA appearance for any playing member of the Bisons roster, the performance of the freshman and sophomore classes mean that this will most likely not be the last.

Left handed pitcher Dan Weigel does yeoman’s work on the mound for Bucknell. The senior has pitched 88.2 innings so far this season, and looks to get the start Friday afternoon against Virginia. Despite the heavy lifting, Weigel has a 2.94 ERA.

Sophomore catcher Jon Mayer is as smooth at and behind the plate as the songwriter he shares a name with. Batting a .239, the Patriot League First Team awardee has 23 RBI this season.