Well, That Wasn’t What We Expected
Baseball will forever be an often-strange game. What other sport tells you that you are one of the best at the function if you hit the ball a third of the time? The Hokies ended their 13-game home stand with a disappointing double header on a dicey weather Saturday when the bats went as cold as the Blacksburg March wind, and the Ace pitcher Drue Hackenberg had his first sub-par outing.
It didn’t start out that way, though. Boston College showed up to play ball, that’s for sure. Maybe the seeds were sewn with the late inning quieting of the bats on Wednesday’s close game with UMass-Lowell? It’s hard to tell, but Friday’s game with BC stated out relatively hot, and then cooled off before finishing big, but the seeds were there.
Game 1 March 10th
The Hokies had a thunderclap of a game going on Friday, and then the rumble quieted down until late when BC had no real hope of overcoming the deficit in the last two innings. The positive note for this one was a nice quality start for Griffin Green, who had been struggling a bit for his first few trips to the bump. Offensively there were a few glimmers but the fireworks were limited to the 3rd and 8th innings. (Maybe they should have saved the 8th’s pyrotechnics for one of the two games on Saturday?)
Green grabbed his first win of the season, and the bull pen did an excellent job of shutting down the Eagles for the remainder of the game. But the Hokie offense did work, and the 13 runs scored were propelled by some fun shots up into the wind, Jack Hurley went yard with this shot.
It was definitely two huge bursts of fireworks for the game, with the long ball being featured and multiple Hokies putting it over the fences.
Triples: Bryant, David (1)
*Stats from Hokie Sports
Game 2 and 3 March 11th
With the weather report screaming about ice and snow, along with more wind, the game schedule was adjusted on Friday to keep the players off the field on Sunday, and also allow BC the opportunity to get out of dodge because it was going to be worse in New England. That might have been necessary, but it also presented a huge problem. Double headers are usually split as teams jockey bench players on to the field and bull pens can be stressed hard having to cover two games in one day. That means the position players need to step up, and the starting pitching needs to be efficient and effective.
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Boston College Eagles - Game 2
Tech’s 2023 Game 2 starter has been our ace pitcher right hander Drue Hackenberg. Hack’s been pure gold, steadily increasing his inning count, and throwing stuff that the other guys just don’t seem to be able to hit. This is baseball, though, and all good pitchers have cruddy days, and Drue basically hit the proverbial stinker for game one of the DH. Hack went six and a third but was clocked pretty hard with five hits and 6 runs scored (4 of which were earned).
The other story of the game was that the Tech bats quieted down until late, and then produced only four runs when they needed one of those Friday night offensive explosions. They did nibble away at BC’s lead, but generated no more offense than their 5th run scored in the bottom of the 7th. It got Tech no closer than 1 run (6-5 BC) and BC sealed it with two in the top of the 9th to put any walk-off opportunities in a box and kick it out of the back of the dugout. Only Chris Cannizzaro and Clay Grady managed extra base hits (both doubles) and all of the Hokie runs were manufactured by small ball and errors.
The third game of the series, night cap of the double header, started out with some really quality pitching by both teams’ pitch-by-committee crews. Tech’s Anthony Arguelles actually pitched five full innings and managed to keep the Eagle run total down to 2 plate crossings. It was a solid start for him, and maybe coach Szefc is thinking he might have a third starter for the weekend rotation. The problem was that the faded Hokie bats were just not there. Tech scattered 9 hits around but only generated three runs. Two of them were small ball with only Jack Hurley managing an RBI double in the 1st inning.
Even with decent enough pitching, that wasn’t offense sufficient to grab the second game of the DH and BC walked off with both a rare double header sweep, and a series victory.
So, the D1 rankings came out, and the Hokies dropped to 17th, and the weather conspired to postpone the Tuesday away game with East Tennessee State. It’s not terrible but the road trip to Coral Gables is going to be tough. Yes, the weather will be better, but Miami has a solid baseball program, and grabbing a series from them in their house is going to be a serious challenge.
The week’s rest and practice might be a good thing. The better weather in Miami will probably be appreciated, too. The equipment managers better bring the A level bag of bats and leave the whiffle ball sticks in the shed.