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Hokies in a Big Series with Boston College
by Chris Coleman, TechSideline.com, TSLMail #430 April 30, 2010
Virginia Tech has another big baseball series against Boston College this weekend in Blacksburg. With a series win against the Eagles, the Hokies would put themselves in good position heading into the final two series of the year versus Duke and North Carolina.
The Hokies are 29-14, with an 11-10 record in the ACC. They are ranked #18 in the nation by Baseball America. This will be the first time since the month of March that Virginia Tech has played a series against a team not ranked in the top 10 at the time of their meeting. The Hokies went 7-5 against #3 Georgia Tech, #4 Florida State, #9 Miami and #1 Virginia. They won series against the Yellow Jackets, Canes and Seminoles.
That doesn't mean the Eagles won't be a difficult opponent. BC is 24-17 overall and 12-9 in the ACC. They are just two games behind the Seminoles in the ACC Atlantic Division.
However, the Atlantic Division isn't as good as Tech's Coastal Division. BC's schedule hasn't exactly been murderers' row.
The Eagles and Hokies have common opponents in Maryland (4-17), Wake Forest (4-17), Clemson (11-10), Virginia (15-6) and Miami (15-6).
Of BC's 12 wins in conference play, only two have come against teams with a winning record. The Eagles defeated Clemson once and Miami once. Their other 10 wins have come against Duke (7-14), Maryland (4-17), Wake Forest (4-17) and NC State (9-12). By comparison, Virginia Tech has seven wins in four straight series against top 10 competition. The Hokies also won two games against Maryland, and another two against Wake Forest.
Virginia Tech is obviously the more battle-tested team, and they are the more talented overall team. Here's a quick look at the pitching matchups for the weekend.
Virginia Tech's biggest advantage comes in Friday night's matchup. Justin Wright has been outstanding in ACC play this year, posting a 2-2 record with a 2.93 ERA, which ranks fourth in the ACC in conference games. League opponents are hitting only .203 against him. He is one of just two ACC pitchers to throw a complete game shutout.
He'll be facing off against Mike Dennhardt, who has struggled this year. Dennhardt has a high ERA, a losing record, and opposing teams are hitting .330 against him. The Hokies have a good hitting lineup, and they should be able to take advantage.
Sunday's starter for BC, John Leonard, has pitched in just four games this year because of injuries. He's pitched very well when available, but he hasn't been tested by a good hitting team yet. He'll face Virginia Tech star Jesse Hahn, who was scratched from last Sunday's lineup at Georgia Tech because of a sore shoulder.
Tech's starting pitching staff is very solid, but they'll also rely on their big hitters to score a lot of runs. The Hokies scored 25 runs in three games at Georgia Tech last week. Four Tech players are hitting over .300 in ACC play.
Senior center fielder Sean Ryan is Mr. Reliable. With a .301 batting average, as well as being one of Tech's best defensive players, Ryan is enjoying a very good senior season.
Catcher Steve Domecus provides power to the Tech lineup. He is hitting .302 in ACC play, with four homeruns and five doubles. He has a slugging percentage of .523.
Ronnie Shaban plays first base and third base, and he is batting .312 to go along with four homeruns and a team-leading 20 RBI's in ACC play. His on base percentage is an impressive .411.
Finally, star first baseman/right fielder Austin Wates is hitting .325 with four homeruns in conference games. He has 12 RBI's, an on base percentage of .417 and a slugging percentage of .506.
These players will try to get the Hokies another series win as we move towards the ACC Tournament, and (hopefully) NCAA Regionals. Friday's game will begin at 5:30pm. Saturday's game starts at 2pm, and Sunday's contest will start at 1pm.
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