The Virginia Tech baseball team's Magical Mystery Tour continues. The Hokies scored in the bottom of the eighth and staved off a Clemson rally in the ninth to beat the Tigers, 9-8, and improve to 2-0 at the ACC tournament Friday at NewBridge Bank Park in Greensboro, N.C.
The Hokies are now one win (or a loss and a long and complicated series of events) from playing in the tournament's championship game.
Tech pounced on its opponent early for the second consecutive game by scoring five runs in the first off Clemson starter Scott Weismann. The inning was punctuated by DH Buddy Sosnoskie's three-run homer.
Clemson would come back and take a 6-5 lead with four runs in the fourth inning, aided by three Virginia Tech errors. Fielding errors by Michael Seaborn and Brent Zimmerman led to two unearned runs charged to Hokies starter Mathew Price. Price went 4.1 IP and gave up six runs, three earned, on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
Tech tied it up with an unearned run of their own, charged to Weismann, in the bottom of the inning. Weismann pitched 3.0 IP and gave up six runs, five earned, on six hits with two walks and no strikeouts. Neither starter factored into the decision.
The game went back and forth from there with Tech scoring runs in the firth and sixth to take an 8-6 lead. The run in the sixth came on a home run by Andrew Rash, who had a monster game and would be a factor late. The Tigers answered back with runs in the seventh and eighth to tie it at eight.
In the bottom of the eighth, Rash doubled with one out off relief pitcher Kevin Kyle. Alex Frederick replaced Kyle and struck out the first batter he faced before Sean Ryan came to the plate for the Hokies. Ryan singled up the middle and the throw home beat Rash to the plate. However, the left fielder dove around the tag and slapped his hand on the plate to give the Hokies a 9-8 lead.
In the top of the ninth Ben Rowen, who had blown a save in the eighth, allowed the tying run to get to second base with two outs when Clemson right fielder Kyle Parker came to the plate. Parker, who is also the football team's quarterback, hit a hot shot right at Hokie first baseman Ronnie Shaban who collected the ball and stepped on first to end the game.
It was Tech's first win against Clemson outside of Blacksburg since March 17, 1984, when the Hokies won in Clemson. It also eliminated the Tigers from the ACC championship game.
The Hokies will try to clinch a spot in Sunday's championship against NC State at 8 p.m. EDT Saturday in Greensboro. The Wolpfack face Georgia Tech in their second game of the tournament Friday night. If they win, the VT-NC State game becomes a defacto pool championship game. If Georgia Tech wins, then the Hokies can still clinch a spot in the title game with a win, but a loss would require a lot of other things to happen for the Hokies to play on Sunday.