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Virginia Tech Hokies Baseball Blanks Marshall 7 Runs to None

The Hokies take their Home Opener 7 - 0 over the Marshall Thundering Herd with a solid pitching performance, a bat around the order in a 5 run 2nd inning, and a beautiful day in Blacksburg.

Hokie Home Opener 2017
John Schneider - SB Nation

It was opening day at English Field. I really should write the "at Union Park" tag to go with it, but that particular part of the name is barely under construction. The first thing to note is that there was something amazing in the air in Blacksburg, yesterday; Spring Temperatures and partly cloudy skies. Everyone who attended the game was completely thrilled. It was a lovely day for baseball more akin to early to mid-April than mid-February. The two month jump in the weather for the day certainly complimented the Hokies big jump this week.

Virginia Tech is 4-0 in non-conference play. Marshall is a Division 1a program so the win was very satisfying, the shutout merely added to the gratification. It’s really difficult to decide what caused the explosion; the crowd wasn’t particularly large (there was even a visible presence of Marshall fans. The lack of seating wasn’t particularly challenged, either. There are no stands on the first base side, and the seats behind home plate and the press box are all closed off for the construction. The field however was in top shape, and folks grabbed their free seat cushion and pulled up a concrete block step that serves as bleachers for the venue.

Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Marshall Thundering Herd Feb 21, 2017 Home Opening Day:

Home Opener 2017 Final Score
John Schneider SB - Nation

The bull pen was working and warmups were going on as the crowd, and yours truly, made themselves comfortable. Baseball is a leisurely spectator event, so no one in the crowd was in a particular hurry to do much other than chat, and prepare score cards, or take pictures.

Coaching Up the Pitcher
John Schneider - SB Nation
Warmups on a Beautiful Day
John Schneider - SB Nation
Under Construction but still getting ready to play ball
John Schneider - SB Nation

After the teams finished their warmups they were notified by the Umpire that it was time to get moving. The national anthem played, and there might have been a flyover by a Cessna landing at the airport. But the call "Play Ball!" went out and the Hokies took the field in that relaxed trot that you see from baseball players.

Hokies Take the Field Home Opener 2017
John Schneider - SB Nation

Connor Coward took the mound and began his final warmup pitches to Joe Freiday, Jr. behind the plate. Connor looked loose and his sort stabbing windup big follow through leg kick dropped in the first pitch of the season. It was a ball, but close.

Connor Coward Opens the Home Season
John Schneider - SB Nation

Coward would get in a tiny pinch as error, a wild pitch, and a walk resulted in two men on base. Coward tightened it down, and closed the inning with a strikeout and a ground ball.

Coward Follows Through on a Pitch
John Schneider - SB Nation

Tech’s half of the 1st was a bit better. They went after balls, and showed a bit of the aggressiveness that would pay off later in the game. Of the first five Hokies up for the inning four made contact and two (Stoffel and Anderson) got singles.

First At Bat from Jack Owens
John Schneider - SB Nation

Coward tossed a respectable top of the 2nd. He did give up a ripping double, but the bleeding stopped there, and the remainder of the action was a routine ground out, strikeout, and pop out.

Wild Pitch
John Schneider - SB Nation

Then something odd happened. The Hokies’ half of the 2nd started off nicely with a single from Stevie Mangrum. A deep single by Joe Freiday sent Mangrum to third. Then Matt Dauby was hit by a pitch which loaded the bases with no outs. Unfortunately Rahiem Cooper grounded into a 5-3 double play. That did score Mangrum, but there was no RBI for Cooper. Dauby reached 2nd safely. (The first force on the double play was a quick kick of the 3rd base bag.) One run in is nice, but it seems such a waste if you load the bases. There was still one out left, and the top of the order was up. None of them seemed to be too concerned about only having one out to play with. Jack Owens connected with a solid single, and Dauby flew around third and slid into home barely ahead of the tag attempt. That was 2-0 Hokies. Next up, Tom Stoffel hit a grounder that should have ended the inning. The Marshall shortstop had some issues with something and didn’t get Stoffel out at 1st. Jack Owens had already reached third, so he was waved home on the bad throw; 3-0 Hokies. The run was unearned, but somehow that only counts on pitcher stat sheets. A run is a run.

John Schneider - SB Nation
Nick Anderson takes a cut for a solid single and RBI

Nick Anderson singled into left field, and Ryan Tufts scored making it 4-0 Hokies. Sam Fragale then got on the bandwagon to launch a double deep down the left field line, and that scored Stoffel (remember that error that let him on). That caused the Marshall coaches to call an end to their starting pitcher’s game. The Hokies managed to bat around plus one for the inning so enough was too much for them. At Stevie Mangrum’s last appearance of the inning, he struck out swinging, but the score was still 5-0 Virginia Tech.

The remainder of the game was fairly routine. Tech scored two more runs one in the 4th, and one in the 7th. Coach Mason had begun to sub in players and Marshall could never really mount a rally. Connor Coward’s game ended after he completed the 6th inning. He put in an excellent three hit, one walk, shutout effort for his first W of the season. Paul Hall, Jr. pitched a shutout 7th, with an inconsequential single. Graham Seitz got in a tiny pickle with a single and a stolen 1st base on a wild pitch on strike 3. With two men on, he stepped it up and struck out the final two batters for a relatively clean 8th. In an unusual move, starting pitcher Kit Sheetz was brought in to close the game in the top of the 9th. He threw two strikeouts and forced a grounder that ended the game.

Game Over Teams meet along the 1st Base line to shake hands and head out.
John Schneider - SB Nation

Virginia Tech Box Score Feb. 21, 2017:


AB

R

H

RBI

BB

SO

PO

A

LOB

Jack Owens 3B/2B

5

1

1

1

0

3

1

0

2

Ryan Tufts SS

3

2

1

1

2

0

1

2

0

Tom Stoffel RF

5

1

2

0

0

0

1

0

1

Nick Anderson DH

3

0

2

1

0

0

0

0

0

JD Mundy PH

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Sam Fragale 1B

3

0

1

2

0

1

6

0

2

Stevie Mangrum LF

3

1

1

0

1

2

2

0

3

Grant Maiorana PH

1

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

Mac Caples LF

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Joe Freiday, Jr. C

4

0

2

0

0

1

9

1

3

Marcus White C

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

Matt Dauby 2B

2

1

0

0

0

1

0

1

0

Garrett Hudson 3B

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

1

0

Rahiem Cooper CF

4

1

2

0

0

0

4

0

0

Connor Coward P

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Paul Hall, Jr. P

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Graham Seitz P

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Kit Scheetz P

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Totals

35

7

12

5

3

9

27

5

11

Doubles: Fragale

Triples: Stoffel, Cooper

RBI: Owens, Tufts, Anderson, Fragale (2)

Sacrifice Fly: Fragale

Stolen Base: Cooper

The next home game is Tuesday February 28th against the Radford Highlanders in our traditional New River Valley Rivalry. Radford always shows up to play ball. That will start a five game home stand. But first The Hokies take a plane to Reno, Nevada to play their Wolf Pack.

GO HOKIES!!!