The Virginia Tech baseball team took two out of three games against then-#4 Florida State over the weekend. The series victory improved the Hokies’ computer numbers and augmented their already solid resume for the NCAA Tournament.
Friday: VT 3, FSU 2
Saturday Game 1: FSU 11, VT 10
Saturday Game 2: VT 8, FSU 1
Before we take a look at the weekend series with the ‘Noles, let’s break down what the ACC looks like at this point in the season.
Coastal Strong, Atlantic Not So Strong
Virginia Tech plays in arguably the best college baseball division in the country. Five of the ACC Coastal Division’s six teams are ranked in the top 19 of the RPI.
That’s not a misprint. The Hokies are #6 in the country in the RPI, with the #3 SOS in the country. The non-conference scheduling philosophy of Pete Hughes is coming together nicely. And it would be better if the William & Mary (#20 RPI) game didn’t get washed out because of nasty Blacksburg winter weather. There are no plans to reschedule the game.
The Atlantic Division isn’t as strong.
NC State: #29
Virginia Tech sits at 7-5 in the ACC. That puts them at fourth place in the Coastal Division standings. It would put them in second place in the Atlantic, just one game behind first place Florida State. The Coastal Division is absolutely loaded.
I like the way Tech’s ACC schedule sets up this year. The Hokies get their toughest opponents out of the way first. They’ve already played Georgia Tech, Duke, Miami and Florida State. This weekend they get NC State, and then UNC. If Tech can stay around .500 in the ACC, they’ll be in very good shape. Three of their last four series are against Maryland, BC and Wake Forest. Their toughest series down the stretch – against UVA – is in Blacksburg, the weekend after the spring game.
Mantiply is Back
Joe Mantiply took a few weeks off after starting the opening game of the season. He returned to the rotation as a Sunday starter against Duke on March 17, and again against Miami on March 24. He was limited to a pitch count in the low-to-mid 70’s for those games, and he was very effective.
March 17 vs. Duke: 71 pitches (49 strikes), 5 innings, 6 hits, 2 ER, no walks, 3 strikeouts
March 24 vs. Miami: 75 pitches (46 strikes, 5 innings, 5 hits, 1 ER, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
Convinced that Mantiply was ready to go, Pete Hughes allowed him to pitch a regular game on Saturday night (the last game of the series, normally a Sunday game) against Florida State. Mantiply pitched 6.2 innings, allowed one run on six hits and three walks, and struck out seven Seminoles in an 8-1 victory. He threw 108 pitches, 70 of which were strikes.
Mantiply was originally supposed to be Virginia Tech’s Friday starter this season, but with Brad Markey and Devin Burke doing a good job so far, I think Mantiply is a major asset on Sundays for the Hokies. He’s a #1 guy for a lot of teams, but he’ll be facing #3 guys on Sundays. The Hokies are 3-0 in his three Sunday starts, and he completely outdueled FSU’s #3 man – Peter Miller – on Saturday night.
Mantiply will also have an advantage over NC State’s #3 starter next weekend. Brad Stone is 2-1, but his ERA is 7.06 and opponents are hitting .290 against him.
Markey Huge in Friday Night Win
Virginia Tech got the ball rolling on Saturday night with a 3-2 win over Florida State. Brad Markey pitched a complete game for the Hokies, going all nine innings and allowing two earned runs. He struck out four batters and walked just one.
Markey is an aggressive pitcher. He goes after hitters and usually throws a high percentage of strikes. That strategy can get him in trouble sometimes, but when his stuff is at its best, it makes him a very effective pitcher. He threw 119 pitches on Friday night, and 83 went for strikes (69.7%).
None of Tech’s starters are dominant, but they are all good, solid pitchers.
Brad Markey (Friday): 3-2, 3.71 ERA
Devin Burke (Saturday): 5-1, 2.61 ERA
Joe Mantiply (Sunday): 2-0, 3.32 ERA
None of those guys can guarantee you a win, but with Virginia Tech’s batting lineup, there is no sure loss either. Mantiply can match up against any Sunday starter in the ACC.
- Virginia Tech is 20-9. This marks just the third time in program history (1985 and 1992) that the Hokies have reached 20 wins before April 1.
- This is only the 18th time in 120 seasons that Tech has won 20 games before their 30th overall game.
- Tech is 7-5 in the ACC. This is the first time the Hokies have been above .500 in ACC play after their first 12 games.
- Tech beat Brandon Leibrandt on Saturday night. He is the son of retired MLB pitcher Charlie Leibrandt, who went 140-119 with a 3.71 ERA from 1979-1993 while playing for the Reds, Royals, Braves and Rangers.