First it was the UNC Tar Heels who bit the dust in Chapel Hill to the Virginia Tech Hokies. That marked the first series win over a ranked opponent in 2022 for Tech baseball. That is assuming you don’t count the Notre Dame “series” which saw games two and three canceled after the Hokies took game one against the then 12th ranked Fighting Irish.
Next, came another team located in the state of North Carolina in the NC State Wolfpack. State was ranked 21st in the country and was coming off then back-to-back series wins over Clemson and a sweep over #12 Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech had no regard for that hot streak as they won the first two games by an average run margin of 8.5. Those series wins over ranked opponents were enough to give the Hokies the Wolfpack’s old spot at 21 but what happened next sent shockwaves over college baseball.
The Hurricanes of Miami came into Blacksburg on a 14-game win streak and were met with a wave of offense they couldn’t handle. Once again, the Hokies took the first two games of the three contest series but dropped the final one. Their stellar performance was still good enough to bump them up 13 spots as the No. 8 team in college baseball.
Game one saw Virginia Tech notch their first win over a top five opponent since 2019. They jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the 1st inning thanks to base hits by Nick Biddison and Gavin Cross followed by the three-run bomb over the left field fence by Tanner Schobel. The hot start was followed up by a solo shot to dead center from the leadoff man Biddison in the 2nd inning. Biddison notched a total of eight hits for the series.
After a few frames of scoreless baseball, the action picked right back up in the 4th inning. Schobel struck another ball into the Blacksburg night and made it a 6-0 Tech lead. This homer marked the third game this season in which Schobel has notched a multi-homer game against a ranked opponent (other two against UNC and NC State).
Starting pitcher Griffin Green pitched four innings of scoreless baseball until the 5th where Miami strung together some runs the old fashioned way and tacked on their first two runs of the opening game. That 5th inning was capped off by a mammoth home run from Edgardo Villegas to cut the Hokies lead in half 6-3. After a Conor Hartigan base hit to score Eduardo Malinowski from second base in the 7th inning, Virginia Tech pulled away for the 12-5 opening game victory.
In game two, the bats of Virginia Tech continued to stay hot in the first inning. Tech put up a four piece thanks to RBI’s from Jack Hurley, Cade Hunter, and Malinowski. Hunter, the team leader in HR’s with 13, mashed a two-run homer that plated himself and Malinowski to lead the way in the opeing frame.
10 Hokies had at least one hit in the 13-run outing for the offense. This included a 3-5 day at the plate for both Biddison and Schobel. Malinowski had a four-RBI game which is his third of the season (first two against UNC Asheville plus UNC). Cross and Hartigan notched RBI triples, giving them their fifth and first of the season respectively.
This game isn’t complete without raving on the performance of starting pitcher Drue Hackenberg. The freshman pitcher put together his best performance of his young college career going eight innings strong. He allowed just one earned run while striking out seven batters to three walks given up. The career game puts Hackenberg at a 2.21 ERA and a 7-0 record.
Virginia Tech was unable to finish off Miami for the sweep in Saturday afternoon’s game. Miami won by the score of 8-5 but there were still memorable moments for Tech. Down 7-1 right after the 7th inning stretch, Schobel once again homered in this series. This home run was of the grand slam variety and nearly propelled the Hokies to a comeback.
Tech rebounded after losing the series finale by beating VMI Tuesday night 9-6. They had two game series with VMI that stretched over three weeks. The first win came right before the UNC series and was a 13-4 win favoring the Hokies.
After the top of the line starters pitched against the Canes, Ryan Metz got the mound for this one. Metz gave up two hits and allowed no earned runs while striking out four batters over three frames of work. The Hokies top four in the lineup all had multi-hit games in Biddison, Cross, Schobel, and Hurley. They set the table for Tech’s five and six hole hitters Hunter and Hartigan to drive in a combined six runs en route to the three-run win.
They followed the VMI win with a victory over NRV rival Radford 13-8. Similar to the VMI series, they had beaten the Highlanders earlier in the year on March 22, by a score of 10-3. Carrying on from that game, the Hokies offense continued to dominate with a clean 12 hits to drive in the 13 runs.
Schobel and Hurley got base knocks three times each and Schobel drove in five runs which tied his season high. Sophomore pitcher Henry Weycker was the winning pitcher as he gave up three hits but allowed no earned runs and two punchouts across three innings of relief ball.
Even though they didn’t get the sweep of Miami, Virginia Tech baseball made a statement this past weekend. The boys in maroon and orange put the ACC and college baseball on notice that they're coming for anyone, hammers and all.