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Virginia Tech Hokies Win! Break slide in Game 3 with the ‘Heels

The Virginia Tech Hokies finally end a 17 game slump with a win on Sunday. Friday looked like a glimmer of hope, Saturday should have been a better effort, but Sunday the team finally got it all together for a 4-3 win over 11th ranked North Carolina.

Sliding in for a run
Sliding in for a run
Picture Courtesy of Dave Knachel - Virginia Tech Athletics

Sunday, April 10, 2016 will be a day to remember for the Virginia Tech Hokie Baseball Team. After an energy sapping spirit robbing losing streak of 17 games, The Hokies battle through a tight one in game three to come away with a 4-3 win.

The stage was set, yesterday, though. Even with a loss of 4-1, something happened in the clubhouse that seems to have helped the team put its collective cleats in the ground. The 4-1 loss on Saturday was tough to take because Tech was in the game until the very last out, and had a decent chance throughout to kill the skunk that’s been hanging around the lockers of late.

Maybe the turn happened in the top of the eight, yesterday with Ryan Tufts first collegiate home run. It could have come from seeing a 9th inning rally fade out with two strike outs and some sort of pride factor kicked in to be that close and still not get a hard enough push to get over the edge.

Virginia Tech Hokies vs North Carolina Tarheels: Game 2

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

Virginia Tech (10-22, 1-13)

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

4

0

(11) North Carolina (23-8, 8-6)

0

0

0

1

1

0

2

0

X

4

8

1

W: J.B. Bukauskas (5-1) L: Jon Woodcock (1-7)

Virginia Tech’s Box Score for Game 2:

AB

R

H

RBI

BB

SO

PO

A

LOB

Saige Jenco CF

2

0

0

0

2

1

6

0

0

Tom Stoffel RF

3

0

0

0

0

2

1

0

0

Phil Sciretta 1B

3

0

0

0

1

2

4

1

1

Nick Anderson LF

4

0

1

0

0

2

2

0

3

Mac Caples PR

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Sam Fragale 3B

3

0

1

0

0

0

1

0

0

Stevie Mangrum DH

3

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

Joe Freiday, Jr. PH

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Logan Bible PR

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Andrew Mogg C

4

0

0

0

0

2

6

1

0

Matt Dauby 2B

4

0

0

0

0

3

3

2

3

Ryan Tufts SS

3

1

2

1

0

1

1

1

0

Jon Woodcock P

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Cole Kragel P

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Totals

30

1

4

1

3

15

24

5

7

HR: Tufts, R.

Why would that be important? Because North Carolina is ranked 11th, and we have had a rough season against ranked teams; that’s why. Tech has consistently hung in there with Carolina in each game. Both pitching performances, Kit Sheetz on Friday, and Jon Woodcock, on Saturday, were worthy of a better offensive effort by the Hokies. At some point, some modicum of pride has to kick in and some measure of responsibility needs to be taken for close losses. In baseball, blowouts happen. Losing by a ton means that you were just outplayed and hit for that day. Well close loses, especially when the game was much closer than the score indicates, means that someone needed to step up and perform at a winning level.

Sunday’s Game 3 effort reflected the pitching and fielding effort of Saturday’s game, but added a spark of offense. The Hokies hung with the Tarheels through the entire game, trading runs to finally hold off a Carolina attempt to tie for the win.

Virginia Tech Hokies vs. The North Carolina Tarheels: Game 3

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

Virginia Tech (11-22, 2-13)

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

1

2

4

8

3

(11) North Carolina (23-9, 8-7)

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

3

7

2

W: Cole Kragel (1-1) L: Brett Daniels (2-1)

Virginia Tech Box Score for April 10th:

AB

R

H

RBI

BB

SO

PO

A

LOB

Saige Jenco CF

1

0

0

0

4

1

7

0

2

Tom Stoffel LF

3

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Mac Caples PR/LF

1

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

2

Phil Sciretta 1B

4

1

3

1

1

0

7

0

0

Nick Anderson DH

4

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

1

Ryan Tufts SS

4

1

0

0

1

1

0

3

6

Sam Fragale 3B

4

0

1

0

0

1

0

1

0

Joe Freiday, Jr. C

4

0

2

0

0

0

6

0

0

Logan Bible PR

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Andrew Mogg C

1

0

0

1

0

0

2

0

0

Garrett Hudson 2B

3

1

1

0

1

1

3

0

0

Grant Maiorana PR

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Matt Dauby 2B

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

Rahiem Cooper RF

1

0

0

1

1

1

1

0

1

Packy Naughton P

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

Cole Kragel P

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Totals

31

4

8

3

8

9

27

7

13

Doubles: Freiday, Jr.

RBI: Sciretta, Mogg, Cooper

For the first couple of innings, the game seemed to start down the same path that the other two did. Tech coming up to bat and after a stir, going down pretty much in order without much of a fight, and the defense giving up a run, early, with some help from an error. Packy Naughton started for the Hokies, and pitched a reasonable game, his three up three down in the bottom of the 2nd helped set the stage for a nifty single manufactured run for Tech in their half of the 3rd.

Second baseman Garrett Hudson started off the third with a single, Rahiem Cooper was hit by a pitch putting a man in scoring position for the first time in the game for Tech. Saige Jenco walked to load the bases, and Tom Stoffel flied out to right, but it wasn’t deep enough to tag and score from third. Phil Sciretta stepped up to the plate and slapped a single that was only deep enough to score Hudson from third. Unfortunately that stopped the scoring after a strike out and a ground out; but the score was tied.

Packy kept up the quality pitching, giving up only scattered singles that went nowhere, for the next four innings. Carolina managed to score after a leadoff single in the bottom of the 7th turned into a single run manufacture on a SAC Bunt and passed ball allowed a rare second single to score a run. Naughton limited the damage and closed out the inning with a fielder’s choice and a ground out.

The Hokies looked like disappointment might be knocking at the door, and they answered with a tying run in the top of the 8th inning to get back even. Joe Freiday, Jr. hit a one out double, and Logan Bible came in to run for the catcher. Garrett Hudson reached on a dropped pop fly. (Says something about running everything out for every player, doesn’t it?) With Logan Bible standing on third, Rahiem Cooper squeezed him home on a sacrifice bunt that was fielded by the pitcher. There was hope shining as the Hokies jogged in to get their gloves and Pat Mason juggled he lineup to account for his pinch runners used in the inning.

The bottom of the 8th didn’t start out so great for Packy Naughton. Carolina doubled with Packy looking a bit gassed, Cole Kragel was called in to pitch from the stratosphere (the young man is a towering 6’8"). Kragel managed to nail down the inning with a bunt for an out to buy 90 feet, a strike out, and a ground out.

The Hokies entered the top of the 9th in a position to do something interesting. Lately they have passed, and didn’t have enough of a chance to make a rally work, but not this game. Phil Sciretta opened the inning with a leadoff single. Nick Anderson bunted him over to 2nd. Shortstop Ryan Tufts walked. Sam Fragale managed to load the bases with a single, and the excitement started up. Andrew Mogg grounded out into a fielder’s choice, but there was a throwing error on the play, so not only did Phil Sciretta score on the contact play; but Ryan Tufts made it across the plate on the error. Earned or unearned, the run counted, and Tech had its first lead of the day; two runs put some sugar on it.

North Carolina paid for that throwing error because their center fielder Tyler Ramirez ran into a Cole Kragle pitch for a two out solo home run. Kragel would lock it back down after thrashing around a bit; finally getting a pop out to Hokie catcher Andrew Mogg.

It wasn’t pretty, elegant, or even dominant. Tech finally got a win as its bats and some scrambling base running helped out Packy Naughton’s quality start. Cole Kragel got credit for the win (which is a part of baseball scoring that is understandable but also a bit less than fair, but I bet Packy wouldn’t trade that No Decision, right now.

It feels much better to be writing about a win. Radford and Tech are meeting for the third time, in more or less neutral Pulaski for a third game in their scattered local series. Tech and the Highlanders are 1 and 1 for the season. Let’s get a series win out of this one, Hokies. The game is Tuesday at 6:30 PM.

GO HOKIES!!!