After a rough start, the Virginia Tech baseball team is hoping its in-conference struggles will end this weekend with a three-game series at Boston College.
The Hokies are 0-6 in the ACC this season, and Tech will be looking to get its first conference wins against the Eagles — who, at 2-4 in the conference, are fresh off of a series at Maryland where they took two out of three.
The matchup also pits Tech head coach Pete Hughes against the team he led for eight seasons before taking the Hokies coaching job after the 2006 season.
The Hokies are coming off of a 9-6 victory on Tuesday in a single game at Liberty. The game wasn’t without drama though, as it took a furious late comeback and 10 innings to give the Hokies the win.
After falling behind 5-1 in the second inning, the Hokies were forced to play catch-up the entire game. Luckily for Tech, Chad Morgan and Johnny Morales took it upon themselves to be the heroes of the day.
Down 6-2 in the eighth, Morgan got the stagnant Hokies offense moving with a three-run blast with two outs to shrink Liberty’s lead to just one. A single by Tony Balisteri scored another in the eighth, and just like that, the Hokies tied the game and forced it into the 10th inning.
Finishing off the comeback, Morales doubled with two outs in the 10th and the bases loaded to bring in the final three runs of the game.
While the comeback was impressive and gave the Hokies a much-needed win, the fact they had to battle from behind has been a problem all season and it will be important to avoid in this weekend’s series.
In the Hokies’ six ACC losses this season, they have actually outscored their opponents in the eighth and ninth innings by a combined score of 8-3. The problem has been in the seven innings prior to that — where ACC foes have outscored Tech 34-10.
Considering four of Tech’s conference losses have been by two runs or fewer, the Hokies’ inability to start games strong is a prime reason for the rough start.
In a somewhat unusual circumstance, the series will not actually be played in Chestnut Hill as originally planned, but rather on the campus of the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, R.I.
This could be a good thing for Tech, because while the Hokies swept Boston College last season in the only series the two played, Tech is just 2-7 all-time when playing at Boston College.
Starting for the Hokies in the series will likely be Joe Mantiply, Marc Zecchino and Joe Parsons, as the trio has started all six of the ACC games played thus far.
It will be up to them to make sure Tech isn’t put into a hole early and to keep the Hokies in a position where their late-inning theatrics can be relevant.
On offense, Michael Seaborn and Ronnie Shaban are the players to watch, as they are batting over .348 and lead the team in total bases in conference games. Freshman Chad Pinder could also be a significant factor in the series, as he is batting .458 with four RBIs in his last six games.
The three games in Rhode Island, which start Friday, will be the end of a four-game road trip for Tech. The Hokies will play at home against Radford on March 29.