Virginia Tech survived a late rally by The Citadel to win their elimination game and set up a match-up with regional host South Carolina tonight at 7 in Columbia.
Reliever Ben Rowen recorded a seven-out save to keep the Hokies' season alive. He came in with two out in the seventh inning with runners on first and second. The first batter he faced singled to make the score 4-3, but Rowen was able to retire seven of the next nine batters he faced to give Tech the victory.
Tech scored three runs in the first three innings against the Bulldogs' freshman starting pitcher, Michael Clevinger, including a solo home run by Buddy Sosnoskie in the second. However, Clevinger settled down and gave up one run in his final 4.2 innings to keep The Citadel in the game.
Austin Wates led the way for the Hokies offensively, going 2-for-4 with a double, triple and two RBIs. He is 7-for-12 with 3 RBIs in the regional. He's picking the right time to catch fire with the MLB Draft coming on Monday.
One Hokie whose draft stock was not helped Sunday was starting pitcher Jesse Hahn. Hahn was in control through three innings, giving up no runs on two hits with no walks and two strikeouts. However, Hahn was pulled from the game prior to the start of the fourth due to a strained forearm.
Hahn missed several weeks earlier this season with a soreness in his pitching arm and had struggled since returning until his three innings Sunday. Hahn, who had been projected as a possible first-round pick, now sees his draft prospects in a state of flux due to injury concerns.
Joe Mantiply came into pitch for the Hokies and went 3.2 innings, giving up three runs, two earned, on four hits with a walk and four strikeouts. Mantiply pitched well after giving up two runs in the fourth. However, Mantiply was a possible starter for future regional games and is now unavailable. With Hahn's injury, Mantiply had to be used to save the season and it will be up to the bullpen to get things done from here on.
With the win, Tech will now face the No. 1 seed in the regional, South Carolina. Senior right hander Jay Brown is the likely starter for the Gamecocks. He is 3-0, 4.40 in 16 appearances, 8 starts, this season. Brown's last eight appearances have all been starts. He earned the win in his last outing against Florida, going 6.1 innings and giving up two runs on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts.
The Hokies will start sophomore right hander Mathew Price. Price is 7-3, 4.54, in 16 appearances, 14 starts this season. He started against Bucknell Saturday, but was limited one innings after a lengthy rain delay. Price gave up a hit and a walk in his one inning of work.
He will face a South Carolina team whose bats have awakened during this regional after being silenced in recent weeks. The Gamecocks are hitting .364 (28-for-77) with 18 runs in two games of the regional. They hit .248 (70-for-282) in their last two regular season SEC series and in two losses in the SEC tournament.
If the Hokies can some get a win tonight, they would force a regional Game 7 at 7 p.m. Monday in Columbia. If the Gamecocks win, they will advance to the super regional.