Thursday, April 29, 2010

A big baseball weekend in Blacksburg

Boston College (24-17, 12-9) is making its move. Winners of nine straight games, the Eagles head down to Blacksburg, Virginia to play Baseball America's #18 Virginia Tech Hokies in their final road trip of the season before the ACC Tournament. VT is 29-14 (11-10) and holding in 7th place overall in the ACC Tournament race, and fourth in the highly competitive ACC Coastal. Boston College shot up to fifth with their sweep of NC State last weekend -- second in the ACC Atlantic -- and are comfortably in the field as of right now.

While they're not on a lengthy streak like BC, Virginia Tech has played well recently, taking five of their last six. While the Eagles were stunning the Wolfpack last weekend, the Hokies were busy winning two out of three at Georgia Tech, arguably one of the nation's best teams.

Statistically, the Hokies hit .322 as a team while BC, though on the rise lately, hits 25 points less at .297. Virginia Tech's team OPS sits at .909 while the Eagles have an OPS of .863. In pitching, BC's team ERA has been dropping on this hot streak, now at a mediocre 6.13. Virginia Tech's is predictably much better at 4.40. 

The series will be a challenge for both teams. Virginia Tech must deal with an opponent playing with a great deal of confidence, having won their last six conference games, while the Eagles get to face a deservedly ranked team that is looking to climb back up the ACC ladder. Furthermore, Virginia Tech is 17-5 at home while BC is only 11-13 on the road.

The projected pitching matchups have been revealed as follows:
Friday: RHP Mike Dennhardt (3-5, 6.57) vs. LHP Justin Wright (4-3, 3.52)
Saturday: LHP Pat Dean (5-0, 3.50) vs. RHP Mathew Price (5-3, 5.50)
Sunday: RHP John Leonard (2-0, 2.45) vs. RHP Jesse Hahn (5-2, 2.81)

Dennhardt has been pitching better as of late, and Price recently got a win for the Hokies against #3 Georgia Tech, so I wouldn't let either of those ERAs scare you.  What we have lined up are three tremendous pitching matchups, and unlike in the NC State series, no team has a matchup advantage.

With two more conference wins, the Eagles will get to 14, which would be the most they have had since joining the ACC.  They are also looking to make both the ACC Tournament and NCAA Tournament for consecutive seasons, BC's cases for which were dramatically improved last weekend in Raleigh.  In fact, they are also looking to make one final push at the ACC Atlantic title, though a Top 10 team in Florida State stands in their way.  A series victory in Blacksburg would be tremendously helpful in all of those departments.  

The Hokies have had a consistency in their play all year long that the Eagles did not find until recently.  From all appearances, Virginia Tech is still a better team overall, but games are not played on paper.  Taking a look at the remaining schedule, the last ACC games to come (FSU and GT 3x a piece) will be exceedingly difficult, despite being in Boston.  This may be their last realistic opportunity to win an ACC series this year, so perhaps they will take advantage of it, but Virginia Tech will make it anything but easy.

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