NCAA Regionals: A first for the Hokies

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If you needed a reason to come to Blacksburg this summer, you’ve got one.  Virginia Tech is going to do something they’ve never done before: they will be hosting NCAA Baseball Regionals this coming weekend.

Finally, Virginia Tech is on the good side of an NCAA Selection Committee.  While the Hokies were making their run through the ACC Tournament, and beating quality teams like UVA, FSU and GT in the process, the hot talk was whether or not Tech would host an NCAA Regional or be a #2 seed, as they were back in 2010.

I was never a believer.  I thought we had an outside shot, but not a great one.  Don’t get me wrong…I believed in the team.  I didn’t believe in the Selection Committee.  I figured that not only would the Hokies get a #2 seed and be shipped off to Vanderbilt or LSU, I thought that if there was any such thing as a college baseball NIT, that’s where the committee would prefer to put the Hokies.

Fortunately this is baseball and not basketball.  The committee did the right thing.  They rewarded a team that went 6-2 against national hosts UVA and FSU, and finished #11 in the RPI with the #3 strength of schedule in the country.  The good thing about it is I don’t see anyone complaining about the selection, except for UVA fans of course, and who can blame them?  I wouldn’t want the rival in-state school stealing any of my thunder, either.

Pete Hughes

I’m really happy for Pete Hughes.  For all the flak Jim Weaver takes, he made a great hire here.  Hughes won 250 games at Boston College, and had an overall winning record in conference play.  That’s not an easy thing to do.  Getting baseball players to BC isn’t easy.  Look at what has happened to the Eagles since Hughes left…they finished 12-40 overall, with a 4-25 mark in ACC play this season.

Hughes took over a Virginia Tech program that was once very strong under Chuck Hartman, but which had fallen on hard times at the end of the legendary coach’s career.  There was a major lack of talent in Blacksburg when Hughes took over.

He immediately responded by bringing in players such as Austin Wates, Jesse Hahn, Matthew Price, Ben Rowen and Justin Wright, and that group of players led the Hokies to the NCAA Tournament back in 2010.  Tech hasn’t been back since that year, though they’ve been close.  Some of those guys are also making a pretty good run in the minor leagues, which we’ll detail later this week.

Virginia Tech isn’t a school that automatically attracts baseball talent.  Hughes said himself on Tech Talk Live earlier this year that he has never beaten out South Carolina, UVA, UNC, or any of the major southeastern powers for a recruit.  Tech doesn’t have the tradition, stadium, or weather to compete against most power programs in the southeast on the recruiting trail.

The announcers spent much of Sunday afternoon’s game with UNC heaping praise on Tar Heel starter Taylore Cherry, who had pitched just 3.1 innings all season.  What they neglected to mention was that Cherry was a top 30 prospect coming out of high school, but he chose to attend college instead.  Had he opted for the draft, he would probably be pitching on somebody’s Single-A team right now, not against Virginia Tech.

The Hokies, meanwhile, take guys like Chad Pinder and develop them into players.  Pinder, who was undrafted out of high school, is now projected to go in the first five rounds of June’s draft.  Mark Zagunis, also undrafted out of high school, could be amongst the top 30 prospects in next year’s draft.

Building a program is a process, and when Pete Hughes first got to Blacksburg in 2007, he didn’t have the facilities, the support, or the players.  Tech put a lot of money into their indoor hitting facility, and they improved the playing surface at English Field as well.  Hughes has stocked the program with better players, developed them over the course of 3-4 years, and now we are seeing the results.  The next step is making English Field look like a major conference baseball stadium, but that’s a conversation for another day.

Playing for the ACC Championship on national television was a big step forward for the program.  Hosting a regional is another.  Making it past regionals and taking on LSU in a Super Regional would be a giant leap, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Let’s take the week to savor the moment for what it is.

If you’re in the area, I strongly suggest coming out to English Field for the weekend.  This team has earned the support of the Hokie Nation, and how many times do you get to see the Hokies playing with the best in America’s Pastime?  It was a tough year for the two revenue sports, but the run the Hammerin’ Hokies have made has taken quite a bit of the sting out, for me at least.

Stick around this week, because we’ll have more articles on this team and this program throughout the next few days.

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17 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Went to Durham and saw the ACC Championship game. UNC looked like a AA minor league team. I was very proud of our team. Especially when a 6.01 ERA pitcher pretty much shut UNC’s highly touted offense. Several UNC fans told me that they hoped they didn’t have play us again.

  2. I said right here on this board that Hughes was a great hire the day it was announced. He was sucessfull in Boston College in the snow! He has done an outstanding job recruiting in a tough field and training his recruits. (Assistants kudos also). I think a raise is in order!

    1. When Hughes ‘ was hired, many just looked at the fact that he finished with a losing record that year in the ACC….why would WE want him?

      You had to look deeper. Like you point out, how has BC dropped since he left? But that was unknowable at the time. To me, as a few did look deeper, the key was that BC at that point (still?) wasn’t fully funded. They had something like 3 scholarships to give out, when fully funded is (I think) 11.7 (baseball gives a lot of partials).

      So at BC, Pete Hughes had to convince most of his guys to pay their own way to a school that costs $30K a year or more so that they could play baseball for him at a place with bad weather and sub standard facilities….and he still produced Big East championships and was close to 500 in the ACC.

      There was no guarantee he’d succeed at VT, but given what he faced at BC, and still produced good results, he did seem like a good hire.

      On a completely different note….please fix the log in thing. I went to the subscriber board. That requires me to be a logged in subscriber, right? No problem. I responded to a thread on that board. I have to be logged in to respond to a post, right? No problem. It popped right in there as “Late 80s Hokie”. I come here and hit “reply” and it tells me I have to log in to reply.

      1. You are correct, it’s 11.7 scholarships.

        As for the login issue, we can’t fix it. Number one, we can’t re-create it, and if you can’t recreate it, you can’t fix it.

        Number two, we are working on a big site upgrade due to launch later this summer (Aug. 1 is our target date), and I think that will eliminate the login problem. And we simply can’t pull our programmer off that project and have him chase the login issue. So please just be patient and slog through the next couple months.

  3. Having a regional in the ‘Burg is a big deal, and Tech has a golden opportunity set before them. Don’t blow it, like all those errors against UNC. Tech is relatively new to this baseball stratoshere. Lack of experience at this level is assumed. Play well, play confident.

    I’ll tell you, the regionals in Blacksburg is big but what would be really special is beating Carolina. Since VT joined the ACC, Tech is 1-24 against the Heels. If Pete Hughes can start beating UNC regularly, regionals will be a given for Tech. And recruiting wars against UNC and other elite baseball programs will end up with Tech winning their share. 1-23 is embarrassing, and something should be done about it. Now!

    1. No disrespect intended but they beat the number 5 and number 7 teams in the Nation in the tournament and lost to the #3 team in the NATION and had a chance to beat them but have never been on that level and you have to get the jitters! These guys have exceeded all expectations dramatically and deserve Kudos. There has never been a Hokie team in any sport that has beaten such high level competion consistently ever in the history of Hokie sports. Give them their due!!

    2. Carolina is 52-8 now and was number 1 and now number 3 and this is every year and this is embarrassing to you!! At what point did you feel we were among the top 5 in the country and shoud be beating #1 through #5! You apparently graduated the same year as I did so I think it must have been before we there !! Give these boys great kudos for beating #5 UVA, #7 FSU and a tough GT team as that in itself is a HUGE accomplishment. Please get a grip!

    3. Beating UNC regularly? I guess we should go ahead and beat Duke regularly in bball too. Let’s schedule Alabama every year, and beat them regularly. Why hasn’t Frank thought of this?!

    4. Really bud? And what exactly do you propose is that “something that should be done about it”?

    5. Come on, just enjoy it. Don’t start looking for flaws in the program and complaining about them.

    6. Excuse me. I didn’t realize everyone was satisfied with being 1-24 vs (fill in the blank), let alone one of the perrenially top ranked baseball programs., I love the Hokies and am proud the 2013 edition, but I’m not going to let such one season orange and maroon tinted sunglasses skew my view.

      In 1995 VT was 0-13 vs. Miami in football. Tech football was not much to shout about back then, being only two years into an unknown (and unheard of) 20 year bowl streak. We beat Miami for the first time in 1995. Since then we are 13-5 against them. I’d say some one (Frank Beamer?) took the bull by the horns and corrected a seemingly embarrasing record.

      Fast forward to 2013. I see VT baseball in a very similar situation. Pete Hughes has resurrected VT baseball. One of the next steps in the 12 step program is to start beating hated UNC. But all my fellow Hokies are satisfied with 1-24 because one successful season and a NCAA regional glosses over everything. Yes, be proud of the great looking new paint job, but the maintenance and improvement still need to be done next year and the next.

      The grass may be greener on the other side of the fence, but you still need to mow the grass.

  4. “Making it past regionals and taking on LSU in a Super Regional would be a giant leap, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”….. No, lets DO get ahead of ourselves. I am an ’82 Tech grad living in Baton Rouge with a son at LSU… I was gonna be there anyway, but a Tech-LSU super regional would be nirvana for me!!! Geaux Hokies, see you in a couple of weeks!

    1. If we do make it I’ll be there with you! I graduated in 1970 and live in Lake Charles. My daughter graduated from LSU and my son is a student there. Geaux Hokies x2!

  5. Love the baseball coverage ,I( read all the posts for years ,but baseball is still no. 1. GO HOKIES.

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