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Virginia Tech Hokies (19) Defeat Radford Highlanders 9-7

The Hokies outlast the Highlanders in a rainy close fought contest. It was a see-saw battle as Tech matched Radford, and finally took enough of a lead that the Highlanders couldn’t overcome.

The Hokies take the field against the Highlanders
John Schneider - SB Nation

It was overcast (with a promise of rain) and cool yesterday afternoon at the rapidly disintegrating old English Field as the Hokies took the field. The Highlanders were here to play the first game of the punctuated Pepper’s Ferry Road Rivalry. Tech and Radford share the same corner of Southwestern Virginia, and some common history. The Highlanders are often seen around town and campus with Hokie football gear on; but for other sports like baseball and occasionally basketball, where Radford fields an NCAA team, the Highlanders show up to play, and play hard.

Yesterday was no exception. There was one little difference though, and it’s the first really great factoid about this game summary. Your Virginia Tech Hokies Baseball Team is nationally ranked this season! The Collegiate Baseball poll of 2/27/2017 has the Hokies ranked 19th. That’s the first time in 4 seasons. Yes, the Hokies with a hard charge (8 wins to 1 loss) from the opening game have managed to attract polling attention. Maybe some of the other polls will begin to take notice. Before they do, though, it’s going to be important for the Hokies to win matchups in the ACC, and that’s going to be tough. This never give up squad seems to have the desire to get that done this season.

The news is accompanied by the second straight Collegiate Baseball player of the week being awarded to a Hokie. The week before last week it was First Basemen Sam Fragale. Last week the award went to Center Fielder Rahiem Cooper, with his massive three home run 9 RBI effort in Reno.

Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Radford Highlanders

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

H

E

Radford (1-7)

0

1

1

2

0

0

0

3

0

7

14

1

(19) Virginia Tech (7-1)

0

1

2

0

4

1

1

0

X

9

11

4

Win: Kit Scheetz (2-0 ) Loss: Cameron Fritz (1-1) Save: Aaron McGarity (3)

Nobody who knows this series has ever said that Radford is a push over. Their fans are often a heavy presence in the crowd, and their road trip is a 20 minute drive up Peppers Ferry Road. There have been 57 meetings with the Highlanders since 1987. Tech definitely holds the edge, but Radford has played some seriously close games, and last year they took two of the three. This game would prove that the prior Tech Win-Loss domination might be a thing of the past; at least for a while.

Hokies up to Bat in the 1st
John Schneider - SB Nation

Both teams started off with unexciting first inning efforts. Connor Coward started the game for the Hokies. The Highlanders opened with two quick outs, and what looked like a fairly routine grounder to 3rd that turned into a single. (There was no error called, but it was close.) Tech did get a hit from Ryan Tufts; but the scoreless action moved on to the 2nd.

End of 2 and the story of the game
John Schneider - SB Nation

Again, both teams managed to match each other in runs. Radford scored on a single, double combination, but Joe Freiday managed to catch a runner attempting to steal, Tufts getting the inning ending tag. Tech scored one run on two doubles; one from Stevie Mangrum and one from Rahiem Cooper.

The pattern would keep repeating itself with Radford scoring one in the top of the 3rd on a single/double combination. Sam Fragale was hit in the face with a glove as several players converged on an infield popup. He would leave the game and be replaced by JD Mundy. The Hokies answered in the bottom of the 3rd with a go ahead 2 runs. Tech momentarily broke the pattern with a strong double by Ryan Tufts being followed up by a Tom Stoffel RBI single (assisted by a Radford error) that scored Tufts. Two walks (Nick Anderson, and JD Mundy) gave Stevie Mangrum an RBI on a Fielder’s Choice as Tufts made it home before any throws. Tech took the lead for the first time in the game.

JD Mundy in for injured Sam Fragale
John Schneider - SB Nation

The Hokie lead didn’t last very long, though. Radford came roaring back, along with a rain that had been intermittent. Connor Coward’s struggles on the mound started to accelerate. Radford put up two singles in a row, and with runners on the corners, Radford ran a safety squeeze. The ball went straight to the pitcher, and would have resulted in a tag out at the plate, but Coward mishandled the ball (throwing before catching doesn’t work too well). The run scored. The second run came on another error, this time by Second Baseman Matt Dauby. So, the Top of the 4th ended with Radford back in a one run lead 4-3 as a steady rain (not a downpour) increased the complications.

A Squeeze that almost worked. Almost being key.
John Schneider - SB Nation

Radford brought in an new pitcher for the bottom of the 4th, and Tech went three and out. It was more than a bit disappointing for the team, but as the cameras got wrapped in plastic, the umbrellas bloomed, and the stands started to empty (not that they are all that full of late). Tech had to find some new determination.

Pop Up!
John Schneider - SB Nation

The Top of the 5th promised to be a game breaker. Connor Coward’s struggles got even worse. The Highlanders grabbed two knocks in a row. The runner on 2nd advanced to 3rd on a wild pitch. Connor managed to strike out the batter for the first out, though. The next batter tried a squeeze play that had worked earlier in the game. This time Coward kept his fielding concentration, grabbed the ball and got it to Joe Freiday for the tag at the plate. At that point, Coach Patrick Mason decided that it was best to have Coward get out of the chilling rain. Kit Sheetz was called in to close out the inning. He walked the first batter but induced a ground ball to put out the runner at 1st which wrapped it up with a critical goose egg for Radford. It was a sloppy scrambling Zero, but no runs were a good thing at that point.

On Deck and Waiting
John Schneider - SB Nation

The bottom of the 5th inning would be one of those, typical for the season, Tech game turning scoring flurries. Tom Stoffel singled. Nick Anderson would strike out, but JD Mundy singled, and then Stevie Mangrum loaded the bases by drawing a walk. One wild Radford pitch later and the rally got started. Everyone advanced a base as Stoffel scored a run. Joe Freiday stepped up with two men on and one out. He played some long ball with a 3-run homer to left center (that’s a long way, folks). With that emphatic note, Tech took a three run lead, and kept ahead for the remainder of the game.

Tech would score two more runs to make it 9 total. Ryan Tufts rounded the bases on a solo shot in the 6th. JD Mundy added to his run total for the day by clubbing a tater in the 7th. Tufts’ run would prove the winning run, because Radford made a furious attempt at a comeback matching Tech’s 4 run flurry in the bottom of the 5th with its own rally in the top of the 8th. Aaron McGarity, who is really becoming a solid closer, came in for the top of the 9th to shut the door on the Highlanders and get the Hokies into the clubhouse with a 2 run win intact.

Virginia Tech Hokies Box Score for February 28th:

AB

R

H

RBI

BB

SO

PO

A

LOB

Jack Owens 3B

5

0

0

0

0

2

2

2

3

Ryan Tufts SS

5

2

3

1

0

0

1

1

0

Tom Stoffel RF

5

2

3

1

0

0

1

0

0

Nick Anderson DH

3

0

0

0

2

1

0

0

0

Sam Fragale 1B

1

0

0

0

0

0

2

1

2

JD Mundy 1B

3

2

2

1

1

0

8

0

1

Stevie Mangrum LF

3

2

1

1

1

1

0

0

0

Mac Caples LF

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Joe Freiday, Jr. C

3

1

1

3

0

2

7

1

0

Matt Dauby 2B

3

0

0

0

1

1

2

3

2

Rahiem Cooper CF

3

0

1

1

1

0

3

1

0

Connor Coward P

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

2

0

Kit Scheetz P

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Graham Seitz P

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Aaron McGarity P

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Totals

34

9

11

8

6

7

27

11

8

Doubles: Tufts, Stoffel, Mangrum, Cooper

Home Runs: Tufts, Mundy, Freiday

RBI: Tufts, Stoffel, Mundy, Mangrum, Freiday (3), Cooper

Clutch RBI: Cooper.

Errors: Fragale, Dauby, Coward, Scheetz

Men Left on Base: 8

Tech won this one, but the reality is that there were some serious struggles. If one error is too many, then 4 is a deluge. If those errors result in runs they are doubly painful. Tech’s hitting has remained very solid for the season. The nine-game stretch has the team pumping out runs. The problem is that we are still giving up too many on pitching issues and fielding errors.

The Hokies won this one by not giving up, and by adjusting to critical losses. The big game kudos have to go to JD Mundy who more than ably filled in for Sam Fragale. Mundy’s 2-hit, 2-run, 1 HR effort was a difference maker.

Friday Western New York State begins its visit for the remainder of this home stand. The Binghamton University Bearcats are scheduled to start a Four Game series that starts Friday at 3:00. Saturday a Double Header is listed starting at noon, and Sunday the baseball starts at noon once again. Tuesday is a one game event with visiting Niagara University.

There’s lots of baseball to come! The ACC season starts on March 10.

Coach Patrick Mason gets a bit heated over a missed call
John Schneider - SB Nation

GO HOKIES!!!!