The Laws of Averages Caught Up... Everywhere...
We have always warned about days, or evenings, like we just saw. Baseball is a game of averages and the night before last; the Hokies blew by the averages by so much, you had to be wary of the Carolina game. It was one of those scalp itching times that you knew that the absolute perfect storm of suck was about to hit. Wow, did it.
North Carolina ended Tech’s dreams of an ACC Tournament Championship with an offensive and defensive door slam. Tech pitchers couldn’t seem to miss a Tar Heel bat, and the Hokie offense couldn’t manage to even kill the skunk. Nothing was working other than the air moving around as bats waved and any offensive momentum died in the resulting calm.
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. North Carolina Tar Heels - Game 2 of Pool Play for the 2022 ACC Tournament
Drue Hackenberg, just off a wonderful final home game pitching performance ran into trouble on the 5th pitch of the first inning, giving up a leadoff double, followed by an RBI single. A two-run homer basically ended any mental and emotional momentum, and the final run of the game left Tech in a big hole from the first inning.
That normally hasn’t been a problem for the Hokies this season. The offense usually steps right up and starts hammering away. Except the Thursday night hammers seem to have been lost in Charlotte along with a bunch of other momentum. The Hokies batters would go three up and three down until the bottom of the sixth when they managed two singles and two base runners. The remainder of Tech’s hits were inconsequential singles so the 3 runs hung on the opening 4 by the Tar Heels were of no actual value - other than salt in wounds.
These things happen in baseball. It’s why seasons are long, and series determine winners and losers not just single games (until the idiotic wild card era). There is always a pair of oscillating curves between offense and defense in the game. When both get on the downslope in parallel you just aren’t going to win.
Reality Prevails, Though
The Hokies might have dropped out of the ACC Tournament, but that’s of little real consequence. The real contest is coming. The Hokies will be seeded very high in the NCAA College World Series mix. First, they have to get through the regionals and super regionals. All of that gets sorted out on Monday after the various conference tournaments are completed. We’ll see where Tech lands and if we get to do like the softball team has done and host the regionals and super regionals here. There isn’t any news on the subject, so we’ll see.
For now, the Hokies get a chance to rest up, get ready for the Memorial Day weekend and the Selection Day excitement. Let’s hope the double dive sine curve has bottomed out and the most disappointing game of the season is behind them.
A Point of Personal Privilege - Pure Opinion
The ACC Tournament is a fundamentally unfair proposition as it is currently structured. First, it is far too long. The NCAA Regionals and Super regionals push the College World Series far past the end of any collegiate normal academic semester. Massive free-for-all conference tournament before the 64 teams are picked is not only of little value it’s a massive imposition on pitching staffs and rotations.
Second, it is too large, with too many runners up allowed single elimination bites at a Championship apple. An apple they have already justly lost. The reality is that a huge single elimination tournament tends to negate the long, hard work done through the regular season. Truthfully it is fundamentally unfair to penalize the division winners by forcing them into an equal footing pile-up where one bad game can eliminate an entire season of steady work.
Reform the Tournament by reducing it to what is just. A true Pennant Race between the Coastal and Atlantic Divisions where the regular season winners of the Coastal and Atlantic play each other in a three-game series at the end of the season. Make the championship mean something, by making the season mean something, too.
There, I have said my piece. I would have said the exact same thing if Tech had won last evening. This is ridiculous and the NCAA Tournament is more important. Just check with the Softball team. They crashed out of the over large ACC contest, and they just put away Florida in the weather interrupted first game of the Super Regionals. With Keely Rochard and Emma Lemley in “GET THE HECK OFF OF MY FIELD!!!!” pitching mode, they have a great chance of advancing to the College Softball World Series by winning the Region.