After a series-opening win against the fifth-ranked Miami Hurricanes, things seemed to be looking good for the Virginia Tech baseball program with the Hokies at 10-5 at that point. Entering the season, there was some pressure on Pat Mason and after a rough start, it seemed like Mason might just have some momentum.
Instead, things have fallen apart in a hurry and a season that once seemed hopeful is now seen as an embarrassment.
Virginia Tech baseball has now lost 15-straight games after a mid-week home loss to William & Mary at the renamed English Field at Union Park. The Hokies have struggled immensely over the last few weeks with some close losses along with some major blowouts including a 22-7 home loss to Liberty and a 16-4 home loss to Notre Dame.
It would be unfair to not include the fact that eight of those 15 losses are against ranked teams, six of which were on the road, but that still doesn’t excuse getting swept at home by unranked Notre Dame or losing mid-week games at home to Liberty and William & Mary, and on the road at VMI and Radford.
After the Hokies’ strong 2013 season that included a sub-regional in Blacksburg, many knew that the Hokies were headed for a rebuild with many players leaving and previous manager Pete Hughes departing. However, year three of the Pat Mason era has already exposed the fact that this program is headed in the wrong direction even after Mason in the past has pointed towards 2016 as being a stronger season.
One of the biggest signs that this program is headed in the wrong direction is the fact that the pitching, Mason’s specialty, has been subpar this season to say the least. So far, the Hokies’ pitching staff has an atrocious team ERA of 6.52 with only Aaron McGarity and Kit Scheetz having ERAs that are below 5 on the staff.
Now this isn’t to say that Mason isn’t a good pitching coach, but what is clear is that as the manager, Mason has not been able to put together a quality pitching staff.
Mason and his staff have also not been the best on the recruiting trail while also not doing well at developing talent when they get to Blacksburg. One of those examples is Nic Enright who had a fairly lucrative opportunity to sign with the New York Mets out of his high school but instead came to Blacksburg.
Now Enright has had some injury issues in the recent past, but the fact that he has an ERA of 8.02 in 21.1 innings of work as a starter and out of the bullpen after being dominant in the talented Richmond area and getting a lucrative offer from the Mets is not a good sign at all.
Now let’s be clear, making this move midseason likely doesn’t make sense as Whit Babcock would be smart to give Mason a little more time to see if maybe they can pull off some tremendous turnaround. Also, Virginia Tech doesn’t have a veteran coach that they could turn to as an interim manager if they made a change before the end of the season though some fans probably think that anyone could do better than Mason right now.
The biggest reason Babcock needs to make a move is the fact that the fan base for Hokie baseball is either extremely frustrated or has lost interest in this team because of how bad they’ve been under Mason. There definitely isn’t a lack of baseball fans at Virginia Tech or in the NRV, but they are not going to root for a baseball team that is currently seen by many as an embarrassment or a joke.
There is a desire among Hokie fans to have a nationally-respectable baseball program that can make College World Series runs and that is definitely not the case right now. However, Hokie fans can have confidence in Babcock as a former college baseball player who is a big fan of America’s pastime and definitely wants a consistent winner at English Field. Pat Mason is young and hopefully will get another chance in a future but he is not the guy to turn around Virginia Tech baseball.
The good news for all the Hokie baseball fans that are frustrated or have become disinterested, change should be coming.