Tech Baseball Recap And Pittsburgh Preview

Streeter Lecka

The Hokies are still looking for their first ACC win, and this weekend could be the opportunity they are looking for.

Somebody hit the reset button on Tech's baseball team. Coach Mason Inc is currently on a six game skid which includes a 10-10 tie with Richmond on Tuesday, and a 14-21 loss to VCU on Wednesday.

Ties are unusual but they still happen in college baseball if circumstances prevent play from continuing. In this case, it was darkness. This may be the first time these players have had a game called due to "darkness" since they were hitting the ball off a tee. Pitt Field in Richmond does not have lights. It's hard to fathom, but they must all have a good laugh every time their utility bill comes in (oh those poor saps who play baseball at night, how uncivilized).

Tech's pitching rotation is quickly becoming a game in itself, worthy of a Vegas betting line even. On Tuesday it was freshman Andrew McDonald who got the start, his first of his career. He is now the 8th Hokie pitcher on the roster to start a game this season in only 15 games. Mason is either giving his freshmen some looks early (a good idea) or he is scrambling to find some kind of consistency before it's too late. Whatever his reason, McDonald wasn't the answer. The right hander lasted all of two innings (sound familiar?), threw 50 pitches, and allowed five hits and five runs, including a home run. To McDonald's credit, he had two strikeouts and most of his pitches were strikes. The problem thus far this season has been a lack a confidence from the starters. They are having a hard time trusting their arsenal and it's resulting in quite a lot of hits. Joe Woodcock replaced McDonald in the third. Woodcock brought the heat and crafted four strikeouts in 2.1 innings (including all three batters in the fourth) and did not allow a single hit or run. But in the 5th inning Woodcock hit the first batter, walked the second, and threw a wild pitch before claiming his final strikeout. Mason decided he had had enough and brought out JD Doran. Doran finished the inning, but gave up a home run. Tanner McIntyre started the 6th inning and his struggles continued, giving up two hits and a run in 0.1 innings of work. Sean Kennedy replaced him and allowed one hit and balanced it with a strikeout. Luke Scherzer finished the game, pitching 3.1 innings and allowing three hits and a run with one strikeout and two walks. In total, Tech's pitchers gave up 12 hits, 10 runs, and combined for 9 strikeouts and six walks.

The Hokie bats prevented the loss. Mark Zagunis went four for five with two RBIs as the Hokies pounded their way to 12 hits and 10 runs. Zagunis, Hayden, and Keselica all had doubles, and Hayden added a triple in a two for four effort. Zagunis, Hayden, Wernicki, and Keselica all had two-out RBIs.

The game was called after the bottom the of the 10th inning. Tech found a way to stay in a game they should have lost.

On Wednesday Tech returned to English field to take on VCU in what became one of the most ridiculous baseball games I have ever witnessed. VCU scored six runs in the 6th and eight runs in the 8th on the way to a 21-14 Rams victory. You read that right, this isn't a football game.

Luis Collazo got the start for Tech, his first, and provided the Hokies a smidgen of consistency. Collazo allowed seven hits and three runs through five innings, but he struck out four. His pitch count of 96 forced Mason to go to the bullpen, as he was doing a decent job on the mound. Kit Scheetz relieved him and gave up five hits and six runs in 0.2 innings. Phil Sciretta was next out of the bullpen and earned the loss after giving up three hits and four runs in only one inning. For those of you wondering why Sciretta gets the decision, a pitcher is credited with a loss if he gives up the go-ahead run and his team never takes the lead back. JD Doran was next out of the pen and allowed one hit, but a run was scored on a wild pitch. Justin Kelly took the mound in the 8th and walked all three of the batters he faced for an early exit. Matt Tulley was next and allowed a hit and three runs (all three earned by Kelly). Tulley was replaced by Mack Krupp who gave up five runs (three earned by Tulley) and allowed two hits. Krupp would go on to finish the game.

This was the most disastrous pitching effort by Tech this season. In total they allowed 19 hits, 21 runs, and eight walks to only seven strikeouts. They also hit four batters and threw three wild pitches. The Hokies did all they could at the plate to keep their team in it, but when you allow 21 runs there is just no chance you are going to keep it close. Tech had an astounding 14 walks from their offense and captured 11 hits and 14 runs. Sean Keselica went three for four and had four RBIs to lead the team. This was matched by impressive performances by Zagunis (four walks) and Jenco (three walks). Tech led 9-2 after four innings, but caved to a VCU comeback. The Rams took the lead in the 7th and never looked back.

It was a terrible way to start the week. Ties are never fun and giving up a seven run lead to only lose the game by seven is nearly impossible. It's very troubling that this team give up 21 runs to anybody, even to a very good 13-3 VCU team. The pitching staff may be beyond hope at this point in the season. ACC play is coming into full swing and the time for establishing a rotation has passed. Tech will either have to stick to their guns and hope it gets better or risk their season by continuing to play rotation roulette.

Pittsburgh

The Hokies home ACC schedule opens against Pitt this weekend. The games are Friday at 5:30, Saturday at 2pm, and Sunday at 1pm. Friday's game is on ESPN3.

The Panthers are 7-7 on the year, with quality wins coming against UNC and Coastal Carolina. They were a good team last year, finishing 42-17, but failed to make the tournament despite finishing 2nd in the Big East. They are currently on a three game winning streak.

As usual, let's look at their stats for this season and see how they fit in with the college baseball landscape:

Statistic:

Score:

Rank:

Batting Average

.220.

264th

WHIP

1.53

198th

On Base Percentage

.323.

223rd

Scoring

5.2/game

111th

Hits Allowed/9 Innings

10.33

224th

Stolen Bases

12

157th

Base On Balls

50

151st

Fielding Percentage

.953.

242nd

K:BB

2.18

86th

Earned Run Average

4.08

151st

There's nothing impressive here. This is a team struggling to find it's way much like Tech. They don't hit the ball or get on base very well, but they do find ways to score. Their defense leaves much to be desired but their strength may be in their pitching.

There is an opportunity here for the Hokies, and they desperately need to capitalize. Upon comparison of these two teams, Tech should actually carry this series with the home field advantage (the Hokies have yet to get a road win). At 6-8-1 on the year, Tech should pull closer to even after Sunday. Unfortunately after the past two weeks, I have trouble betting on Tech at all. Expect Markey to start on Friday. After that go ahead and put all the pitchers names in a hat and pull one out. Keselica will probably get another start on Saturday or Sunday.

If Tech can harness it's pitching they will win two games. It's just that simple. The offense has been on fire this week. All the Hokies need to do is back that up by missing bats. If the woes continue it's going to be a long weekend, and Tech could easily drop all three games.

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