Following another ACC series loss to Pittsburgh last weekend, their third to start the 2023 campaign, the Virginia Tech Hokies (15-9, 2-7 ACC) are looking ahead to a huge series at home against the fifth-ranked Virginia Cavaliers (23-2, 7-2) this weekend.
The matchup is a tale of two very different teams, as the Hokies began the year as a consensus top 25 team in the nation, and now sit at the bottom of the ACC Coastal division.
The Hoos on the other hand, have built a strong lead atop the Coastal division, holding a three-game lead due in large part to a six-game winning streak.
UVA has also won every ACC series played in, which contrasts to Tech’s ACC series drought.
Following the series in the steel city, Virginia Tech headed to Lexington for a rematch against VMI, who the Hokies had taken down 11-0 in Blacksburg a week prior.
The rematch would bring more competition for Tech, as they needed a huge ninth inning in which the Hokies got back–to-back-to-back home runs from Garrett Michel, Jack Hurley, and Carson DeMartini to take a three run lead heading into the bottom half of the ninth.
Jonah Hurney, who picked up the win, and Andrew Sentlinger, who tallied his first save of his career held VMI to just one run on an RBI single from catcher Cole Garrett, as the Hokies picked up a much needed 9-7 win.
The story for John Szefc’s team has been the inconsistency in conference play, amid the dominance of non-conference play, as the Hokies sit at 13-2 when playing non-ACC opponents.
Something to note as the Smithfield Commonwealth Clash heads to Blacksburg for the weekend series is how close it has been.
In the 2022-2023 academic year, the Hokies have tallied six points, in comparison to the Cavaliers seven, so needless to say, Tech has some skin on the line.
The core of Hurley, Michel, DeMartini, Chris Cannizzaro, Eddie Eisert, and Christian Martin will attempt to overpower the Hoos rotation, which is headlined by aces Connelly Early (6-0, 1.59 ERA, 36 K) and Brian Edgington (4-0, 1.95 ERA, 35 K).
Meanwhile, the Hokies' arms will have to deal with projected first round catcher Kyle Teel, who currently boasts a .449 batting average, along with Jake Gelof, who paces the Hoos with eight homers and 37 RBI’s.
The series is set to begin on Friday, March 31st, at 8 p.m.
In 2022, the Hokies took the series 2-1 in Charlottesville, so it will be interesting to see if Tech can regain its form from a season ago at home.