Coming into the 2022 season, not much was expected of the Virginia Cavaliers or the Virginia Tech Hokies on the diamond. Yes, UVA was ranked in some polls, but most considered them a fringe Top 25 team, while the Hokies weren’t ranked and weren’t expected to contend for an NCAA Tournament berth.
Three months later and both are looking likely to host regionals in the NCAA Tournament after stellar performances thus far.
After starting the season 10-1, VT looked like they were going to do well enough to contend for a spot in the ACC Tournament. ACC play and they were promptly swept by Georgia Tech, lost a midweek game to James Madison, and dropped their first game to Pittsburgh. Since that four game losing streak they’ve only gone 19-3 with series wins over UNC and Miami.
Presently they’re on a six game winning streak that included a series sweep last weekend at Boston College.
The offense for the Hokies has been phenomenal throughout ACC play. They’re fourth in the conference in team batting average at .298, but lead the conference by 15 HRs with 47 in ACC play. Not surprisingly, because of that, they lead the conference with a .574 slugging percentage and are fourth in on base percentage at .397.
They have five batters batting .300 or better in conference play lead by sophomore Tanner Schobel who is batting .378 with a 1.247 OPS. Schobel has played in all 19 ACC games for VT and has at least one hit in all but 3 of them and multiple hits in 10 of those 19. He’s not only hitting for average right now, but the sophomore also leads the Hokies and the ACC with 10 Home Runs in conference play and is second in the conference with 30 RBI (leads VT).
Gavin Cross, Nick Biddison, and Jack Hurley make up three of the other starters batting over .350 for the Hokies in ACC play and all have over a 1.0 OPS, a .585 slugging percentage, and at least four home runs in conference play.
As good as the Hokies are at the plate, they are just as good on the mound with the second best ERA in conference play (behind UVA) with a 4.63 ERA. They do however have a 1.54 WHIP and opponents are batting .272 off of them in ACC play (UVA’s opponents are batting .241). Comparatively, they don’t strike opponents out often with only 182 in 173 inning pitched, which is ranked 10th most in the conference.
VT’s two announced starters, Griffin Green (Friday) and Drue Hackenberg (Saturday) are a large reason the Hokies’ numbers are so impressive. The two have a combined 14-1 overall record (9-0 in ACC play), a 2.72 ERA, and a 1.21 WHIP. Hackenberg leads the ACC with 5 conference wins and is 4th in conference ERA at 2.51.
This series has a real “spider man meme” feel to it with both teams being so talented at the plate and on the mound. Both have positioned themselves well to host a regional in the NCAA Tournament, but this could be the weekend where one team cements itself and another team falls to the back of the pecking order. Both teams are also three games back of Miami for the ACC Coastal with the Hurricanes playing on the road at Georgia Tech this weekend. Whoever wins in Charlottesville could pick up a game with just two weekend series remaining.
Here’s how the staff at D1Baseball is picking this weekend: