A Big Sweep
Last season, the Hokies were swept in Blacksburg by a bad Duke team. Those losses ultimately kept Virginia Tech out of the ACC Tournament, and potentially out of the NCAA Tournament as well.
This year, Tech returned the favor by sweeping the Blue Devils in their own park. This was a Duke team that had taken two of three games from Miami in their previous series. The Hokies are now 17-5 overall, and 4-2 in the ACC, which is a very solid start. Last year they started 2-4 against UVA and Georgia Tech, and were then swept by Duke to knock their record back to 2-7. That was a disastrous start, and the team never recovered enough to make the ACCT (finishing 11-19 in the ACC) or the NCAAs (35-21 overall, #35 in the RPI).
The Hokies still have Maryland, Boston College and Wake Forest on the schedule, and Tech is better than all those teams. Their other ACC opponents are at Miami (this weekend), vs. Florida State, at NC State, vs. UNC and vs. Virginia.
This is a tough league, and there aren’t any easy outs (except perhaps BC, who is 3-15). The Hokies look like they are a team who will win their share of games and end the season very high in the computer rankings. In fact, Tech is #11 in the RPI right now and have the #26 SOS in the country. If they can keep their numbers up, you can count on seeing this team in the postseason. We need to pull for non-conference opponents such as Kent State and UNC-Wilmington to win a lot of games.
Mantiply Returns to Solidify Tech’s Rotation
Joe Mantiply (LHP, Sr.) started Sunday’s game in Durham, a 6-2 win over the Blue Devils. It was Mantiply’s first start since the first game of the season. He had missed his previous three starts with arm issues, but returned on Sunday to pick up the win. It was not a dominating performance, but it was solid for a guy who has missed so much time.
Mantiply worked five innings and gave up two runs on six hits, with three strikeouts. He did not walk a batter, and he threw 71 total pitches. Hopefully he continues to progress, and his workload can increase on week by week basis.
If Mantiply can get back to 100% soon, his return will give the Hokies a solid starting rotation.
Devin Burke (RHP, r-Jr.): 5-0, 2.43 ERA. Burke is second in the country in wins, and he sports a very solid ERA. Opponents are hitting just .214 against him. His whip (walks/hits per inning pitched) is only 0.997, which is a very good mark.
Brad Markey (RHP, Jr.): 2-1, 3.06 ERA. Markey pitched 8.1 innings against Duke on Friday, and he allowed just one run. Unfortunately he didn’t get the win he deserved, as Tech won in extra innings.
If those three starters can stay healthy for the remainder of the season, I’ll feel better about Tech’s starting rotation than I have in any year since the 2010 Justin Wright-Matthew Price-Jesse Hahn trio.
Speaking of that trio, let’s take a look and see how they fared in the Minors last season.
Justin Wright: After dominating Short Season A, Low A and High A ball in 2010 and 2011, Wright was listed as one of the top 20 prospects in the Cardinals organization heading into 2012. He was a Midwest League All-Star in 2011 as a reliever. He was bumped up to Double A Springfield last season, and had a 4.45 ERA in 50 appearances. He’ll likely begin the 2013 season in Springfield again.
Matthew Price: Price returned from Tommy John surgery to pitch in three games late last year. He pitched two innings for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox, and one inning for the Greenville Drive in late August and early September. He was originally an eighth round pick by Boston.
Jesse Hahn: Hahn would have been a first round pick in 2010 were it not for an elbow injury, which led to Tommy John surgery. Instead, he slipped to Tampa Bay in the sixth round. He finally returned to the mound last summer for the Short Season A Hudson Valley Renegades, and he seemed to be his old self. He had a 2.77 ERA in 14 starts, and opponents hit just .199 against him. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Hahn make it up to the Double A level this year.
Later this summer we’ll do an update on all former Tech players who are currently in the minors.
Up Next: The U
Up next for the Hokies will be a trip to South Florida and a date with the Miami Hurricanes. The Canes aren’t off to a great start this season. They are 14-7 overall, and just 2-4 in the ACC. They lost two of three games to #1 UNC this past weekend, and they began their ACC slate by losing two of three to Duke at home.
Miami obviously has talent, though they might not be as good this year as they usually are. Baseball is a long season, and things still have to play out. A series win on the road against Miami would be huge for the Hokies.
By the way, the weekend weather forecast in Miami is for a high of 78 on Friday, 85 on Saturday, and 88 on Sunday.
For a rundown on last weekend’s action in the ACC, and conference standings after last weekend, click here.