Who’s the Pack playing?
Opponent: Virginia Tech
Mascot: Weird Turkey Birds | School Location: Blacksburg, VA | Conference: ACC
2021 Record: 21-12 (15-9, 1st Coastal) | 2021 RPI Rank: 39
2020 Record: 11-5 (1-2, 5th Coastal) | 2020 RPI Rank: 57
2019 Record: 26-27 (9-21, 6th Coastal) | 2019 RPI Rank: 65
When? Where? How do I watch?
Location: Doak Field at Dail Park (Raleigh, NC)
Game Time(s): Fri, Apr 23 @ 6:30pm | Sat, Apr 24 @ 7:00pm | Sun, Apr 25 @ 4:00pm
Live Stats: Sidearm Stats
Tell me about this team
Virginia Tech has never really been an overly successful baseball program on a national level (they’ve made an NCAA Regional ten times in program history, and only twice in the last 20 years). They had a nice in-conference run while members of the Metro, A10, and Big East conferences during the 1990’s and early 2000’s, but out of conference, the program had always suffered.
Moving the ACC in 2005 did nothing to help that. After an especially cold introduction (24-91 ACC record from 2005-2008), the program turned out a bunch of mediocre-to-good-but-not-embarrassing teams over the next eight years, including two NCAA Regional appearances (2010, 2013) under Pete Hughes. After that 2013 season, Hughes departed for Oklahoma (he was fired and is now head coach at Kansas State). Things tanked in four years under Pat Mason, so the program brought in John Szefc.
By Hokies standards, Szefc was a home run hire. In 12 seasons as a head coach at Marist and Maryland prior to arriving in Blacksburg, Szefc led his teams to seven NCAA Regional appearances, including back-to-back Super Regionals with Maryland in 2014 and 2015 (you may remember Szefc as the Terps’ head coach for their final season in the ACC in 2014).
This was a rebuild that was going to take a while. In the fourth year under Szefc, the Hokies finally seemed to have turned the corner (helped tremendously by a slew of transfers), currently leading the ACC Coastal Division and having all but locked up an NCAA Regional appearance barring a complete and total collapse down the stretch. The team is an impressive 9-4 versus RPI Top 50 opponents, doing so with an impressive offense and a talented and deep pitching staff.
Who’s on the mound for these guys?
RF Gavin Cross (FR) - .412/.474/.756, 9 2B, 3 3B, 10 HR, 38 R, 31 RBI, 13 BB, 27 K, 5-9 SB. Always nice to have a freshman who comes in and just rakes from Day 1. He’s a 2nd year freshman who was a Freshman All-American in 2020. The lefty hitter is a future high draft pick.
1B TJ Rumfield (rFR) - .346/.419/.544, 9 2B, 6 HR, 27 R, 31 RBI, 16 BB, 13 K, 1-1 SB. Transfer from Texas Tech who slashed .417/.481/.542 for the Red Raiders in 2020. Lefty hitter with an advanced approach at the plate. 18 multi-hit games this year.
3B Kevin Madden (SO) - .299/.351/.425, 5 2B, 4 HR, 20 R, 26 RBI, 10 BB, 18 K, 4-5 SB. Three-year starter for the Hokies with a career .299/.348/.429 line. Solid all-around player who does pretty much everything well.
SS Tanner Schobel (FR) - .291/.387/.480, 10 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR, 25 R, 25 RBI, 14 BB, 20 K, 1-2 SB. Slight built first-year player who is excellent at the dish and with the glove. Flew under the radar as a smaller school prospect out of high school, but he’s clearly on scouts’ radars now.
RHP Anthony Simonelli (JR) - 4-0, 3.47 ERA, 36.1 IP, 23 H, 16 BB, 40 K. Transfer from Coastal Carolina by way of St. John’s River JUCO. Has gone at least 5.0 IP in each of his last four starts, with fewer hits than innings pitched in each of those outings.
LHP Shane Connolly (JR) - 1-1, 5 SV, 3.60 ERA, 40.0 IP, 39 H, 8 BB, 55 K. Transfer from The Citadel who’s originally from Huntersville, NC. The team’s top reliever converted to a weekend starter midway through the year with outstanding results.
LHP Peyton Alford (SR) - 1-2, 5.21 ERA, 38.0 IP, 35 H, 26 BB, 58 K. Former JUCO transfer who was the 2018 NJCAA Tournament MVP. Has incredible stuff, but control is his weakness (26 BB, 6 HBP, 5 WP in 38.0 IP this year).
LHP Chris Gerard (SO) - 2-1, 3.41 ERA, 31.2 IP, 28 H, 10 BB, 34 K. Ultra talented pitcher, but has only pitched in one game over the last four weeks due to a groin injury.
LHP Matthew Siverling (FR) - 4-0, 2 SV, 3.80 ERA, 23.2 IP, 25 H, 12 BB, 28 K. Second year freshman from Matthews, NC. Had a 1.71 ERA in the 11 outings before his last four (2.2 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K).
RHP Graham Firoved (SO) - 2-0, 3 SV, 3.21 ERA, 14.0 IP, 7 H, 10 BB, 24 K. Transfer from Radford by way of Nothwest Florida State JUCO. Stuff has never been an issue for him throughout his career, but control has. Filthy when he’s on.
Quick! Fun Facts!
NC State leads the all-time series, 45-22-2, a series that started in 1907. There has been one NCAA Tournament meeting (NC State winning 12-6 in the 1997 Tuscaloosa Regional).
Despite being so closely located, the two schools did not play between 1949 and 1981.
NC State holds the distinction as the program that has struck out the most Hokies batters in any single game (21 K’s in an 8-7 NC State win in a 14-inning game in 2013).
Despite a less than stellar program history, Virginia Tech has three alumni that have played an MLB game in 2021 (UTIL Chad Pinder, OAK; RHP Jesse Hahn, KCR; RHP Ben Rowen, LAA).
The Hokies are a solid all-around team, possibly as well-rounded as any in the ACC this year. Their only conference series losses are to Florida State, Clemson, and Georgia Tech. They hit a rough spell in March, losing 7 of 10 at one point, but have won 11 of 15 since, although the series loss to Georgia Tech did come last weekend and they needed a late come-from-behind victory Tuesday against a poor VMI squad.
Interestingly, neither team has named a starting pitcher for any game this weekend.
Outcome: The Pack and Hokies split the first two games and Sunday is decided in the 9th inning.