Virginia Tech's hopes of making its first ever NCAA baseball super regional took a major blow Friday when the Hokies lost to The Citadel, 7-2, in the first game of the Columbia Regional. The Hokies now have to win four games in three days to advance out of Columbia, something no team was able to do in 2009.
The Citadel held their ace pitcher, Asher Wojciechowski, for a possible second-round match-up with South Carolina in hopes junior lefty Matt Talley could get them through the first round. Talley was up to the task, going 7.0 IP and giving up two runs on eight hits, including a two-run homer by Sean Ryan in the seventh, with no walks and three strikeouts to earn the win.
Talley was at his best with men on base as the Hokies stranded nine men on in the game, including six in Talley's seven innings. The other three came in the eighth when Tech left the bases loaded while down five against reliever Raymond Copenhaver.
Virginia Tech starting pitcher Justin Wright struggled early and gave up four runs in the second inning, including a two-run home run by David Greene. He settled down for the next three innings before giving up three singles to the first four batters he faced in the sixth. He finished the game with 5.1 IP, giving up six runs on 10 hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
The Hokie batters, who were clutch with two out during the ACC tournament, couldn't find the same magic against the Bulldogs. Six of their nine hits came from two players, Austin Wates and Tony Balisteri.
The Hokies will face elimination at 2 p.m. EDT Saturday in Columbia when they play the loser of Friday night's game between Bucknell and South Carolina. Sophomore right hander Mathew Price is expected to start for the Hokies. He is 7-3, 4.59 in 15 appearances, 13 starts this season.
Price was 2-0, 2.99 (10 ER/30.1 IP) in five May starts. That was a big improvement from April when he went 2-2, 8.46 (21 ER/22.1 IP) in four starts.
If the Hokies face Bucknell, they'll likely face RH Trey Frahler, who is 4-6, 6.53 this season. If they face South Carolina, they'll be forced to go against All-American Blake Cooper, who is 10-1, 2.94 this season.