Virginia Tech baseball (15-6, 3-3 ACC) has won six of the last seven games and continues to demonstrate vast improvement, particularly with the pitching staff.
The Hokies have given up an average of two runs per game over the last five games. Save for the shutout loss against Pittsburgh in the series conclusion, the offense has also scored double digit runs in the rest of those four games.
Last weekend, Virginia Tech traveled to Pitt and outscored the Panthers 27-5 in the first two games. Kerry Carpenter was 7-for-9 during those two games with 10 RBIs. The junior college transfer now has a team-high 26 RBIs. With a chance to sweep the series on Sunday, the offense fell flat and Virginia Tech lost 1-0. Pitt won the game despite only gaining three hits.
“We’re making good progress in every respect,” head coach John Szefc said. “We’ll have our little road bumps here and there, with Sunday being one of them. We have 20 new guys, and we’re just trying to get more consistent. It probably frustrates some people with a little bit of the inconsistencies.
“This is a monstrous work in progress still. That’s the thing that most people have to remember. If you look at our lineup, our position players, we only have one guy of all the position players that contributes on a regular basis that we didn’t recruit. That’s Jack Owens. One guy. Put that in perspective, and not many pitchers. We’re trying to like put this thing in fifth gear as much as we can, but there’s certain things you can’t speed up in this game. Some of it is experience, which leads to more consistent play. But we do pitch and we play really good defense and that will keep you in most games even when you lose 1-0.”
During the middle of this week, Virginia Tech welcomed High Point to town and controlled the game from the beginning, winning 16-1. Kevin Madden’s grand slam in the first inning set the tone and allowed 19 different players to make an appearance in the game. This was the same High Point team that the Hokies scrimmaged during the fall and lost to 17-7.
On Wednesday, Virginia Tech traveled to Marshall to face the Thundering Herd. Nick Biddison led the charge with two hits and three RBIs while the Hokies used eight different pitchers to pick up the 11-3 win.
“Our pitching staff has done a really good job in these midweek games,” Szefc said.
One underrated quality for Virginia Tech is that they have three everyday players who can catch. Luke Horanski, Carson Taylor, and Biddison all can command the pitching staff behind the plate. It allows Szefc to keep those guys, who are all a huge part of the offense, well-rested especially during a stretch like they’re in now with five games in six days.
“It’s just weird having three catchers that are always in the game at the same time,” Szefc said. “I’ve never had that before. Not to mention that two of them are true freshmen. But they’re three of our best players. It’s not like you can really take them out very much because they give you defensive value, they give you offensive value… so what do you do? They have to be in the lineup one way or another. It’s good where you don’t have to run the same guy back there 50 times.”
The Hokies will have their hands full with a top 15 North Carolina team this weekend. The Tar Heels are 16-6 and 2-4 in conference after getting swept by Clemson earlier in the year. They won two out of three games against Miami this past weekend. It is Virginia Tech’s first home conference series of the season.
First pitch on Friday is set for 1 p.m. from English Field at Union Park.