Hurricanes Hit Road to Take on Hokies

Every game in the college baseball season is an opportunity. It can be a chance to pull a huge upset, a chance to prove you are for real, a chance to get a confidence-boosting win against weaker competition or in the case of the series this weekend for the Hurricanes, a chance to pad the conference win column before the schedule stiffens up again.

Next weekend, the Canes will be taking on the top-ranked team in the nation, the Florida State Seminoles. After that, they have a series against a streaking Virginia club. While UM has more than enough talent to come out on top of both of those series, you can see why it is going to important to get some ACC wins headed into those weekends. That's not to say that the Hokies are talentless hacks. They have struggled to a 5-10 record in ACC play, but they have talent on their roster. For starters, VT can flat out hit. They are hitting .303 as a team and they have several players whose numbers are astronomical.

Chad Pinder leads the way. The third baseman is hitting .373 with five homers and 32 RBI with five stolen bases thrown in for good measure. Catcher Mark Zagunis is right behind him hitting .363 with four homers and 18 runs batted in. He also leads the team with eleven steals.

Outfielder Tyler Horan has provided the most power this season. The .280 hitter has launched nine home runs. Don't sleep on center fielder Andrew Rash, either. He has struggled to a .260 average this season with just five home runs, but last season, he hit .335 with 18 homers. The guy has a ton of raw talent.

The Hokies aren't as good on the mound, but they do have a some quality arms at the top. Staff ace Joe Mantiply is 4-2 on the season with a 3.31 ERA. He doesn't overpower hitters or pile up strikeouts, but he pounds the strike zone well. He has only walked twelve hitters in 51.2 innings.

Behind Mantiply, Mark Zecchino is pretty solid. His 2-4 record isn't anything to write home about, but he has a 4.07 ERA and like Manitply, does a good job of avoiding walks. He has only issued 14 in 42 innings pitched.

It's behind those two that things get a bit dicey for the Hokies. No other pitcher has started more than five games and the three guys that have the most innings as starters, Manny Martir, Patrick Scoggin and Andrew Aizenstadt, all have ERAs of 5.21 or higher.

In the bullpen, Virginia Tech is led by Jake Joyce and Tanner McIntyre. In 21 innings spread out over 18 appearances, Joyce is 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA. He has 29 strikeouts and batters hit only .244 off of him. McIntyre is more of a long reliever. He has thrown 21.2 innings over ten outings. He's 2-0 on the season with a 2.91 ERA. The series being away from home will make things a bit tougher, but it's also not like Virginia Tech has a huge home field advantage like some other schools in the conference.

The Hokies have the bats to make UM pay if they give them extra outs, so I don't think the Canes will be able to come away with the sweep that the talent discrepancy says should happen. Look for Miami to take two of three.

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