Virginia Tech Baseball Prepares For New Orleans Tournament

By: Matthew Atkins | @mattkins21 | Feb 23, 2018
Following last weekend’s 1-3 performance at Coastal Carolina, the Virginia Tech baseball team travels to Louisiana on Friday to participate in the Allstate Sugar Bowl Baseball Classic hosted by the University of New Orleans. The Hokies dropped their first two contests of the season to Coastal Carolina and South Alabama, but defeated Oklahoma 14-6 to pick up their first win. They ended the weekend with a 6-5 loss against Kansas State. Virginia Tech opens this weekend with a matchup against Iowa, a team that is 3-0 so far this season. The Hawkeyes defeated Toledo, Oakland and Old Dominion in a tournament last weekend. Iowa’s baseball team has improved in recent years, winning the Big Ten Tournament in 2017. Coming into Friday’s matchup, the Hawkeyes are scoring 5.3 runs per game, a tough look for a Virginia Tech pitching staff that currently has a 7.41 ERA. Friday’s game will be just the fifth meeting all time between the two teams. The series is currently tied 2-2, with Virginia Tech winning the last game 4-3 in 2012. On Saturday afternoon the Hokies will take on New Orleans in the second game of the weekend. The Privateers are 2-3 so far this season and are coming off a 14-6 loss to No. 23 LSU. On paper, the two teams look nearly identical. Virginia Tech is batting .279 compared to New Orleans’ .260. The Hokies have hit two home runs this season; the Privateers have hit three. Virginia Tech has a slugging percentage of .390 while New Orleans is slugging .364. The stats look similar on the mound as well. Virginia Tech pitchers have struck out 40 batters while New Orleans hurlers have fanned 48. There is somewhat of a larger difference in the ERA category, although neither team has performed too well there. New Orleans’ rotation brings an ERA of 4.80 into this weekend compared to the Hokies’ 7.41. The season is still young, so I wouldn’t read too much into any of these stats, but it’s an interesting look at the upcoming matchup for Virginia Tech. Tech’s final matchup of the weekend comes against Ball State in what will be the first meeting between the two programs. The Cardinals are 2-2 this season after facing UMass Lowell and Morehead State twice each during a tournament in South Carolina. Ball State beat UMass Lowell in each of their matchups and dropped both games against Morehead State. The Cardinals haven’t done much on offense, only scoring 14 runs through four games and batting just .239, but their pitching has performed well thus far. The team has an overall ERA of 3.25 and has struck out 45 batters. This will be a tough matchup for a Virginia Tech offense that has struck out 32 times so far this season. If I were to make a prediction for this weekend's games, I'd say Tech goes 2-1, losing on Friday to Iowa before coming back to beat New Orleans and Ball State. The Hokies are still getting settled in to the season and it might take while before things start to come together for this team. This weekend is a perfect opportunity to steal a few wins heading into the home opener against Radford next Tuesday. A strong performance at this weekend’s tournament could give the Hokies the confidence they need to get this season on the right track.

Photo Credit: Harley Taylor

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