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Opponent Preview: Virginia Tech

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Meet the Hokies... They’ve got some strong pieces, but not a lot of depth

GoPack.com

Who’s the Pack playing?

Opponent: Virginia Tech

Mascot: Hokies | School Location: Blacksburg, VA | Conference: ACC

2018 Record: 10-13 (4-5, 4th Coastal) | 2018 RPI Rank: 131

2017 Record: 23-32 (9-21, T-6th Coastal) | 2017 RPI Rank: 122

2016 Record: 19-36 (6-24, 7th Coastal) | 2016 RPI Rank: 200


When? Where? How do I watch?

Location: English Field at Union Park, Blacksburg, VA

Game Time(s): Thursday, Mar 29 @ 4:00pm | Friday, Mar 30 @ 4:00pm | Saturday, Mar 31 @ 1:00pm

TV: ACC Network Extra (Thursday | Friday | Saturday)

Radio: WKNC 88.1 in Raleigh

Live Stats: HokieSports.com


Tell me about this team

Virginia Tech is a weird team. They’re not bad, they’re just not all that good either. The Hokies are a team with some nice pieces in place, but too many holes in their lineup to consistently put up runs to be in high-scoring games, and also lacking both a third weekend starting pitcher and quality bullpen depth for their pitching staff to be able to hold teams and hope for close, low-scoring wins. Are they better than a 10-13 team? Yeah, probably... but then again, I’m not sure how much better.

The program should begin to develop into a more formidable foe over the next several years with the renovations to the baseball facilities and John Szefc being brought in to replace Pat Mason. Szefc has a solid track record as a college baseball coach and should be able to do well recruiting to Blacksburg.

Key Players:

Offense

C Luke Horanski (RS-JR) - .343 BA, .489 OBP, .586 SLG, 70 AB, 8 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 14 R, 13 RBI, 16 BB, 20 K, 0-0 SB. JUCO transfer who originally played at Creighton, Horanski has been one of the most consistent bats in the VT lineup. He currently has a 9-game hitting streak going, during which he’s hitting .424 with 4 2B and 2 HR.

OF Tom Stoffel (RS-SR) - .320 BA, .389 OBP, .485 SLG, 97 AB, 6 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 15 R, 15 RBI, 5 BB, 12 K, 0-1 SB. A 2017 Second Team All-ACC selection. Stoffel has been around at Virginia Tech seemingly forever; he’s their Johnny Piedmonte.

2B Jack Owens (RS-JR) - .282 BA, .422 OBP, .388 SLG, 85 AB, 2 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 20 R, 15 RBI, 12 BB, 16 K, 8-8 SB. Former transfer from East Carolina was a 2017 Third Team All-ACC selection. He’s also been hit by 21 pitches in two seasons at VT. Very good top-of-the-order hitter.

3B Sam Fragale (RS-JR) - .250 BA, .269 OBP, .396 SLG, 96 AB, 6 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 16 R, 15 RBI, 2 BB, 30 K, 2-3 SB. He’s having the worst season of his VT career, but Fragale is a dangerous hitter who slashed .310/.372/.615 with 14 2B, 15 HR, and 63 RBI in 55 games last year.

Pitching

RHP Connor Coward (SR) - 1-2, 3.66 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, .193 OBA, 39.1 IP, 27 H, 21 R, 16 ER, 19 BB, 45 K. Take out Coward’s one horrible game vs Georgia Tech (5.1 IP, 11 H, 10 R) and his numbers get ridiculous. He’s a very experienced pitcher with 55 career appearances.

LHP Ian Seymour (FR) - 2-1, 3.79 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, .205 OBA, 35.2 IP, 26 H, 17 R, 15 ER, 13 BB, 44 K. Seymour is pitching lights out, especially for a freshman. He should easily be an ACC Freshman Team selection after this year. Hasn’t allowed over two runs in any of his last three starts, with 24 K to 5 BB in 18.1 IP during that three-game span.

RHP Andrew McDonald (RS-SR) - 1-4, 4 SV, 3.55 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, .245 OBA, 25.1 IP, 24 H, 16 R, 10 ER, 11 BB, 29 K. Top bullpen arm and closer for the Hokies. The 6’6, 240-pounder has found an effectiveness this year that wasn’t present earlier in his career.

RHP Nic Enright (RS-SO) - 1-1, 2 SV, 4.64 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, .370 OBA, 21.1 IP, 20 H, 14 R, 11 ER, 7 BB, 25 K. Selected in the 19th round of the 2015 MLB Draft by the Mets out of high school, he missed all of last year due to injury. An over-the-top pitcher who can get his fastball up in the 90’s, he has the most potential of any reliever. He could be real dangerous once he gets fully back from his Tommy John Surgery.


Quick! Fun Facts!

NC State leads the all-time series between the two programs by a record of 43-21-2, having won 13 of the last 15 contests between the two schools.

The first game between the two schools was played in 1907, with NC State staking a 15-4 win in Raleigh.

RS-JR INF Nick Owens (.302/.400/.333) spent his freshman year at NC State in 2015, although he redshirted that season while recovering from an illness. The Charlotte native then spent the last two years playing JUCO ball at St. Johns River State College before ending up at Virginia Tech this year.

John Szefc is in his first year at the helm of the Virginia Tech Baseball program. Szefc has compiled an overall career record of 392-259-3 at Maryland and Marist.

The Hokies have a 9-20 all-time record in the NCAA Tournament, having never made it past the Regional round in any of their 10 appearances.

RS-JR C Luke Horanski may or may not be Joe Giglio’s illegitimate son...


Prediction

I hate to predict series sweeps in baseball because... well... it’s baseball. This series, however, is probably the most likely case for a sweep by NC State in the remaining conference schedule. Michael Bienlien should bounce back from his horrific start against Georgia Tech last weekend, while Johnny Piedmonte appears to be back to form from his injury that cost him a start at Clemson. Brian Brown has also been overall fantastic this year.

As much as I’d like to predict the sweep, I think State drops the first game to Virginia Tech before bouncing back to win the final two of the series. Connor Coward has been great for the Hokies this year and I think he does just enough to keep the Wolfpack bats at bay in the opener for a close 6-5 Virginia Tech win. State leaves Blacksburg with 8-3 and 8-2 wins in the final two games.

Go State!