Clemson's quick bats and a couple of questionable managerial calls caused the Hokies to go home winless in the conference and fall to 6-7 overall after it's opening ACC series.
Friday, Lost 7-6
Friday was Tech's best chance to steal a win. After falling behind 5-0 in the 6th, the Hokies mounted a comeback for the ages and the game was tied at six going into the 9th inning. Fortune would favor the home team as the Tigers drove in a run with two outs to win the game 7-6.
Brad Markey started on the mound for Tech and amassed eight strike outs and no walks through eight innings. Unfortunately he also gave up seven hits and four earned runs. Markey went as long as he could, throwing 110 pitches and facing 34 batters, but it just wasn't enough. Kennedy and Scherzer both pitched in the 9th. Scherzer gave up the winning run, but it was a nice display of coaching by Clemson. Markey gave up a double to the first batter in the 9th inning. Coach Mason then brought in Sean Kennedy. Clemson called for a sacrafice bunt, which advanced the base runner to third. Mason called the bullpen once again, this time for Luke Scherzer. Scherzer struck out the next batter, but ultimately gave up the winning RBI, courtesy of the Tigers' ability to play small ball. The offense did all it could to help out the star pitcher. Tech got six hits, six runs, and five walks, but struck out 12 times. Brendon Hayden was a force to be reckoned with at the plate, going two for five with a double, a home run, and three RBIs.
Editor's Note: The first base umpire had two seriously brutal rulings that added runs for Clemson and took runs away from the Hokies. On the first, the ump ruled that the VT first basemen's foot was pulled from the bag on a throw from SS. This was true, but he got his foot back in time to make the force. The second call was on a ball hit by Zagunis during the big rally where it was a double that caught chalk and should have cleared the bases. And finally, Mason probably shouldn't have sent Markey out for the 9th, but that must be an indication of how desperate we are to win the starts that Markey makes right now.
Saturday, Lost 12-2
Saturday saw the Hokies get run off the field. Clemson powered it's way to a 12-2 win by getting 13 hits and keeping Tech away from home plate. Kit Scheetz got the start for the Hokies but didn't stay long. Scheetz gave up eight hits and five earned runs in only two innings of work. He also threw 62 pitches, way too many for just two innings. Phil Sciretta pitched three innings in relief but gave up four runs and three hits. Andrew McDonald pitched the 6th and 7th innings and got the Hokies' first two strikeouts. JD Doran finished the game and added another strikeout.
Tech's offense couldn't find any mojo on Saturday despite grabbing the same number of hits as Friday with six. Alex Perez was busisness like at the plate, going two for four with an RBI. Sean Keselica and Brendon Hayden had doubles and Keselica added another RBI. Whether it was poor pitching by Tech or good hitting by Clemson, the Hokies went down early and never had a chance.
Sunday, Lost 11-4
Sunday was no different from Saturday. Sean Keselica took the mound in the 1st inning and gave up five hits and two runs. Tanner McIntyre relieved him and gave up five hits and four runs while facing only six batters and pitching for a whopping 0.1 innings. Sean Kennedy threw for two innings, adding another hit and another run. Aaron McGarity added 2.1 innings of work, allowing another five hits and three runs. JD Doran faced the final Clemson batter in the eighth. Tech's pitchers combined for only three strikeouts.
The Hokie bats found some success with nine hits and four runs, but just couldn't match the 16 hits and 11 runs that the Tigers gathered. Alex Perez once again went two for four, and Miguel Ceballos matched his effort and threw in an RBI for good measure. Tom Stoffel and Ceballos both doubled, and Kyle Wernicki added a triple. After going down 2-0 early, Tech rallied and scored four runs in the top of the fourth. But just when things were looking up, Clemson scored four of it's own in the bottom half of the inning and never looked back.
What went wrong? Tech couldn't find a way to match the Tigers' success all weekend. The pitching was all over the place. Markey had a valiant effort on Friday, only to see his team fall short (albeit on the backs of a couple of questionable calls that kept the Hokies from adding to it's comeback). At this time Markey appears to be Tech's only go-to starter. McIntyre is struggling. The once mighty starter's 0.1 inning performance on Sunday would indicate that he is having more trouble coming back from his injury than we thought he would. Tech's other two starters did not have ACC worthy performances. The Hokies are going to need to find some help on the mound if they want to compete in the conference at all this season. The infield also committed seven errors this weekend, a detriment to any defense.
While the offense averaged four runs per game against Clemson, that's not going to cut it in college baseball, especially when the defense isn't performing as needed. To win the game, you must pass go and collect 200 dollars, and at this point the Hokies have struggled making it even halfway across the board. Tech often only has one or two hitters putting in the work, so more consistency is needed from the batting order. In particular, the team needs more offensive production from Mark Zagunis. This could be a very long year for this team. Keep in mind that it's a first year coach who is working with a lot of young players and who lost his three best hitters and two best pitchers from last season. It was never going to be easy. It may be a while before this team gets back to the top of the ACC.
What's Ahead This Week?
Looking forward, Tech has a heavy slate this week. The Gobblers travel to Richmond on Tuesday and then come back to Blacksburg on Wednesday to face VCU at 5:30 (it's buy one, get one free concessions night, so come and pig out with us and show the team that we're all in this together). Then on Friday the Hokies begin a three game series with Pittsburgh in the ACC home opener, and the first series against Pitt as conference rivals. This weekend will be great opportunity for Tech to get it's first ACC win of the year.
- Virginia Tech Freshman Devin Wilson Named to ACC-All Freshman Team
- Hokies Hoops Welcomes Five New Faces In 2014
- Virginia Tech Football's Lack Of Red Zone Offense
- Georgia Tech Basketball Outlasts Hokies in Final Regular Season Game
- Hokie Basketball Q&A With Georgia Tech Site From The Rumble Seat