Hokies Hammer Highlanders, Get Set to Face Canes in Miami
Hokies took the #SharkeysClassic 22-2 in a dominating offensive performance.
In what ended up being a record breaking performance in the series between New River Valley rivals, the Hokies plated a whopping 22 runs while only allowing 2. The win takes the Hokies to 3-0 as they enter ACC play this weekend against one of the best teams in the country, the Miami Hurricanes.
Newcomer to Blacksburg T.J. Rumfield led a pack of Hokies in stuffing the stats. The Texas Tech transfer ended the day with 3 H, 3 R, 2 HR, and 5 RBI.
Ryan Okuda (1-0) got the win for the Hokies, who put multiple pitchers on the mound. Noah Johnson, a second year freshman, was the most impressive reliever in later innings. Johnson struck out 3 Highlanders in 2 IP, allowing only one hit.
The Hokies were able to get 7 changes into the lineup, which is a big deal for an astonishingly young team still trying to figure out their lineups.
"We've liked what we’ve seen from not only these first three games but just through the fall and in the spring," said assistant coach Kurt Elbin on Tuesday's media call.
"I think from a talent perspective they're obviously ACC-ready guys and you know we're confident in our abilities. But we also understand that not only is the ACC different, Miami is going to be different than what we played so far. It's gonna be a challenge for our guys are I think our guys are ready for it."
The Hokies will open ACC play in Coral Gables against the #6 Miami Hurricanes in a 3-game weekend series. The Canes are coming off an impressive series win against the previously #1 team in the nation, the Florida Gators.
Miami is one of the most talented teams in the nation, but have a lot of unproven talent in the starting rotation and bullpen. Florida was able to score runs against them, scoring 7, 9, and 6 runs, respectively.
Still, the Hokies know that this will be a massive test for the young club.
"There’s no easing into this," said Elbin. "I don’t think any weekends are easier than others in this league, especially with our schedule this year. But, going on the road, on dirt for the first time as an entire group for the first time in almost a year, those are challenges that will present themselves. It certainly will be baptism by fire."
But for a program looking to climb up the food chain in the nation's toughest conference, a series against the Canes early in the year can be a blessing in disguise.
"It’s a good opportunity to go to Miami early in the year because they’re still figuring things out,” said Elbin. “Even though they played really well against Florida and they’re gonna be extremely talented. For us, the only thing that we’re trying to handle is just deciding on roles.”
The Canes have incredibly talent, but have struggled in the pitching and defense game over the past couple years. They can make up for this with power hitting up and down the lineup, but Florida was able to make the games high scoring and play some effective small-ball, something the Hokies have been working on all offseason.
"Something we've really focused on is manufacturing runs without getting hits," said Elbin.
Regardless of opponent, the chance to play in sunny Miami after over a month of dreary Blasckburg weather will be a much needed dose of vitamin D for the Hokies.
"To get out there and actually sweat will be fun," said Elbin. "You’re gonna get a lot of adrenaline. There are gonna be some guys that embrace that warm weather. We got a couple Florida boys too, so they’ll be glad to get back home in their home state. I know they’ll be ready for it and I’m excited too, even though I have red hair and will need to wear some sunblock that’s for sure."
The games will be televised online with ACC Network Extra. Since the games have no RSN affiliate airing them, they can be watched by any ACCN customer. Live stats are also available on Hokiesport.com