The Virginia Tech baseball team threw out the first pitch on the 2011 season this weekend at the Caravelle Resort Tournament in Conway, S.C. The Hokies are coming off a great season (40-22) in 2010 that included a trip to the NCAA Regionals. However, a number of the players from that team have left via graduation or the MLB draft.
Virginia Tech 4--Indiana 2
The Hokies opened the season against the Hoosiers on Friday and earned a win for sophomore pitcher Joe Mantiply. Mantiply pitched 7 innings and gave up two earned runs, nine hits and struck out five. Mantiply escaped a first inning bases loaded jam without surrendering a run, but gave up a RBI single to Micah Johnson that plated Dustin DeMuth for the first run of the game.
Virginia Tech 3B Johnny Morales singled to start 3rd inning and later advanced to second on a wild pitch. Second baseman Michael Seaborn got on base after a walk, setting up a first and second situation with one out. A single from 1B Ronnie Shaban brought Morales home for the first run scored by the Hokies of the 2011 season. Seaborn later scored on a wild pitch from Indiana pitcher Drew Leininger.
Seaborn singled at the bottom of the fifth inning and LF Andrew Rash later homered to put the Hokies' lead to three runs. Indiana's Michael Basil, SS, scored on a single from Wes Wilson, C. Shaban pitched the 8th inning and Jake Joyce got the save for the Hokies, the two of them combining to hold the Hoosiers hitless late in the game.
Follow the jump to see how the rest of the weekend played out for the team.
Virginia Tech 11--Tennessee Tech 9
After a low scoring affair against the Hoosiers on Friday, the bats were a bit warmer against the Golden Eagles of Tennessee Tech. TTU roughed up Virginia Tech pitcher Marc Zecchino to the tune of four runs in the first inning, thanks to four hits and a walk. Right fielder Gabe Ortiz was hit by a pitch at the top of the third inning and Seaborn reached on a fielding error. Rash walked to load the bases and catcher Chad Morgan singled to bring in Ortiz and Seaborn, bringing the score to 4-2 Tennessee Tech. The Golden Eagles scored a run in the bottom half of the 3rd inning off a passed ball.
In the top half of the 6th inning, the Hokies scored three runs to tie the game. Morgan, Jake Atwell and Matt Blow all scored in the inning with Morales, Ortiz and Shaban all earning RBIs. Rash scored on a wild pitch in the 7th inning to put the Hokies up 6-5, but the Golden Eagles answered with four runs off of Hokies' pitcher Manny Martir in the bottom half of the inning. Martir gave up a two walks and then a two-run double, followed by a dropped fly ball by Seaborn and then another single brought in the ninth run for TTU.
Morales walked to start the 8th inning and then advanced on a balk. Seaborn was hit by a pitch and Shaban grounded out to bring Morales home. Shortstop Tim Smalling tripled to bring in Seaborn and bring the Hokies within one run. Blow homered in the top of the 9th and Oritz doubled, later being brought in by a RBI double from Seaborn. Seaborn scored on a RBI single from Shaban, giving the Hokies a 11-9 lead.
Shaban hit the first batter he faced, but shutdown the next three to earn the save and secure the win for VT's Brandon Fisher.
Virginia Tech 5--Coastal Carolina 6
The marquee match-up of the weekend took place on Sunday as the Hokies squared off with Coastal Carolina, the #18 team in the National Collegiate Baseball Writer's Association's rankings. Seaborn started the game off right for the Hokies with a two-out homerun. In the bottom of the second, the Hokies ran into some trouble allowing two runs off of 1 hit and two errors from starting pitcher Patrick Scoggin.
Morales singled in the 3rd inning and after stealing second, Smalling brought him home with a RBI single, tying it at 2. Coastal Carolina RF Daniel Bowman singled and Hayes Orton singled to bring Bowman across the plate in the bottom half of the 3rd. Smalling drove in two more runs in the 5th inning, giving the Hokies a 4-3 lead. The lead didn't last long though as the Chanticleers got the run back in the bottom half of the inning.
With the game tied at 4 heading into the final frame, Seaborn singled to start the inning and then advance to second on a passed ball. Seaborn advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt from Blow and eventually scored on another passed ball. The Hokies had a chance to add some insurance runs with a runner on second and third but Tony Balisteri struck out swinging. That inability to capitalize on the runners in scoring position would be crucial in the game's final score.
Joyce was trying to follow up his save on Friday with one in this game by striking out the first two batters in the 9th inning. With a 3-2 count, he walked KJ McAllister. The Chanticleers had Tripp Martin pinch hit with the game on the line and he took the first pitch from Joyce over the wall for a walk-off two-run homerun. The loss erased Smalling's 2 for 4, 3 RBI effort and a chance for a big early-season win.
Overall, the Hokies had a good weekend and were one pitch from sweeping the Tournament. The loss to Coastal Carolina will sting for a bit as they had almost locked up the third win, but there are 51 more chances to make up for it.
Up next: the Hokies play USC Upstate in Spartanburg, SC on Tuesday before opening up at English Field against Niagara next weekend.