Photo courtesy of Virginia Tech athletics

In what will be the first ACC series of the year for John Szefc and Virginia Tech baseball (3-0), the Hokies should be in for a real test as they head south to 80-degree Coral Gables to face the third-ranked Miami Hurricanes. 

To break this one down, we’ll go over news, notes, and what you need to know prior to first pitch tonight at 7 p.m. ET. 

Game Day Information

When: Friday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. ET, Saturday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. ET and Sunday, Feb. 28 at 1 p.m. ET

Where: Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field 

TV: ACC Network Extra 

Series History: Miami Leads 37-8

Last Meeting: Miami Won 2-0 on April 28, 2019

Last Time Out

After a two-game sweep of Kent State this past weekend, the Hokies followed up with an offensive showcase — a 22-2 beatdown of New River Valley rival Radford. 

TJ Rumfield became the Highlanders’ worst nightmare on Tuesday afternoon. The Texas Tech transfer went 3-for-5, including two no-doubt homers to right field, while also adding five RBIs. The first baseman has been a solid fit in the clean-up spot early on in his tenure in Blacksburg. 

Gavin Cross also had a solid 2-for-4 afternoon, adding a pair of RBIs. Fritz Genther, the talented freshman out of New York, had a solid 3-for-5 performance. 

Another freshman, Cade Hunter, added a three-run bomb to put the game away early for the Hokies. Hunter was a 35th-round draft pick by the Colorado Rockies in the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft. He did not sign, and took his talents to Blacksburg instead. The Hokies are happy he did. 

What To Watch For – Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech assistant coach Kurt Elbin, who stood in for Szefc on a media call, said that his guys are “ready” for the challenge that awaits with No. 3 Miami.

“It’s going to be nice to be able to sweat a little bit,” Elbin chuckled about escaping to a hot and sunny Miami. “We have to play well; we understand that.”

Currently with star player Nick Biddison out, the Hokies only have one starter who has played a full season at Virginia Tech. Elbin says he feels they’re throwing their young guys “into the fire”, but that Virginia Tech is ready for the challenge and the coaching staff will be ready to coach them “as best we can.”

“It’s baptism by fire,” Elbin joked about the opening ACC series against the Hurricanes. 

The Hokies’ rotation is up there with anyone in the ACC with Chris Gerard and Anthony Simonelli complementing each other nicely on Friday and Saturday. The Hokies will likely send out the following lineup and weekend rotation for the three-game set:

Projected Lineup:

  1. CF Brennan Reback/Jack Hurley 
  2. RF Gavin Cross
  3. 3B Kevin Madden
  4. 1B TJ Rumfield
  5. LF Jonah Seagers/Tanner Thomas
  6. DH Cade Swisher
  7. 2B Tanner Schobel 
  8. C Cade Hunter
  9. SS Fritz Genther

Projected Weekend Rotation:

  1. LHP Chris Gerard
  2. RHP Anthony Simonelli 
  3. LHP Peyton Alford 

What To Watch For – Miami

Elbin admitted that Miami is “extremely talented.”

The Hurricanes are coming off a series victory in Gainesville against then-top-ranked Florida. It was an impressive start to the season for head coach Gino DiMare. 

They won both the Saturday and Sunday match-ups after dropping Friday night’s opener, 7-5. Winning 10-9 in 13 innings on Saturday was exactly what the ‘Canes needed to leave with a 2-1 weekend under their belt. 

Miami is led by star catcher Adrain Del Castillo, who is currently rated as the fourth-best prospect in the 2021 MLB Draft by MLB Pipeline. 

If it’s typical Miami baseball, the rotation should pan out well. However, none of its weekend starters pitched more than 4.2 innings in Gainesville. Only right-handers are slated to start on the mound on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. 

Make no mistake however, the Hurricanes are good – and very well could contend for a national championship this season if the cards fall the right way. Here’s how Miami stacks up for this weekend’s series. 

Projected Lineup:

  1. LF Jordan Lala
  2. 2B Anthony Vilar 
  3. C Adrian Del Castillo 
  4. 3B Yohandy Morales
  5. 1B Alex Toral
  6. DH Raymond Gill/Jared Thomas/Gabe Rivera 
  7. RF Christian Del Castillo 
  8. CF Tony Jenkins 
  9. SS Dominic Pitelli 

Projected Weekend Rotation:

  1. RHP Daniel Federman
  2. RHP Ben Wanger
  3. RHP Victor Mederos