It’s been a long couple of weeks for everyone in Gobbler Country. The weather has not cooperated, and neither has the health. Let’s hope that with Spring finally looking like it’s sprung, that things get a bit easier to cover and a bit more on the predictable route that it usually is.
We head into the grand opening of the New English Field at Union Park, slated for Saturday April 14th. (Shhh, it’s a secret, but they’ve been playing home games on English Field while the construction has been going on, but we won’t tell.) So, it’s time to go over the last eight games and how the Hokies have been doing.
Not many rebuilding programs are going to complain about a .500 record over an 8 game stretch, especially when it comes to the insanity of playing two double headers in 3 weekends, plus a makeup game for a game that was cancelled due to the bad weather that also caused the scrambling of usual three game three day sets.
This stretch started right along with the bad weather. North Carolina State visited the construction pile, and there was more than a glimmer of hope as they #6 team in the country dropped the first game of the set on Thursday March 29th (instead of Friday – moved due to predicted bad Sunday weather). Tech jumped on the Wolfpack and kept jumping registering a solid win at 10-2. Connor Coward had another amazing game, holding NC State to 2 runs on 3 hits in 8 innings of effort. It may have been his marquee victory for the season.
That rare air wouldn’t hold for game 2 of the set as the Wolfpack chewed through a pitch by committee effort and handed Luke Scherzer a loss even though he only pitched 2 and a 1/3rd innings. They returned the Thursday favor 2-14.
Then Saturday March 31st, Ian Seymour took the mound and proceeded to toss a 5 hit shutout for nearly 7 innings. For whatever reason, the coaches put in Andrew McDonald to close out the 7th, and the only run of the game scored. Tech lost, but it was a pure pitchers’ duel. I am sure that Seymour was more than a bit frustrated.
With the weather running a cool 50 and a stiff wind blowing the Hokies notched a booming win against the Dayton University Flyers on April 4th. With the final at 19-3, nearly everyone got in on the scoring and Dylan Hall notched a well-earned victory. A new reliever, Hayden Heflin made an appearance for 2 innings, and tossed a goose egg. Jack Owens, Tom Stoffel, Joe Freiday, Jr, and JD Mundy all checked in with Taters.
That was all before the trip that just wasn’t fair. Hooville was experiencing the same weather, if not a bit worse than Blacksburg. The Cavaliers haven’t been going great guns this season, and it was a real chance to grab a bit of Commonwealth Clash glory. But that ended up being just a bit out of reach, though just a bit. Again, the Hokies were treated to having the weekend slammed with a double header. Game 1 of the Friday set didn’t go so well for either the Tech offense, or the pitching. Connor Coward’s magic ran out, and Ryan Okuda’s close also added to the woe. Sometimes you just can’t catch a break. No one did much of much at the plate, so we lost that one 0-9.
The evening set (hardly an evening, it was only 40 minutes later) was a different story. Normally, with a double header a team will gear up to win one game and “do their best” on the second. It seems that the “win” configuration didn’t work so well, so the “do your best” pitch by committee group had to pick up the slack, and the offense had to do something besides hit air. Tech battled through game 2, and kept the game within one run all the way through to the 9th inning. A small ball manufactured run that got Nick Menken (who was a lead-off walk) across the plate to take a 5-4 lead. Graham Seitz closed the game with three outs, but not without walking one batter and giving everyone something to breathe hard about.
The final game of the series was another one for the ages. The Saturday off seemed to help the squad refresh itself a bit. Tech and UVA battled again, on Sunday, with Tech taking a two run lead into the bottom of the 8th, but Graham Seitz gave up two that inning. He walked the leadoff runner in the bottom of the 9th, and Joey Sullivan just couldn’t close the door, giving up a triple that tied the game with the walked in run, and then a single that game the Wahoos the walk-off win. It was a heart breaker that came down to relief pitching not functioning well, again.
Marshall came in yesterday, to make up a game that was postponed due to the weather. The Tech offense reignited, and Dylan Hall managed a quality start and 7 solid innings with only 3 runs notched. The Hokie relief staff featured another new pitcher, Grant Squyars who maintained the 9th inning goosegg. Tom Stoffel, Sam Fragale, and Stevie Mangrum all notched dingers.
All in all it was a tad disappointing if only because there were two tough ACC games that were in reach if the Hokies could have generated some offense. They have proven that they can hit, and run the bags so it’s only a matter of time before they start rowing with both oars and get the boat moving in a more positive consistent direction.
Here are the scoreboards from the last eight; Marshall and Tech are at it again at 6 this evening.
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. North Carolina State Wolfpack March 29 - Blacksburg
|(6) NC State (21-5, 7-3)||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||3||3|
|Virginia Tech (11-13, 5-5)||0||0||8||1||0||0||0||1||X||10||14||2|
|W: Connor Coward (2-2)|
|L: Michael Bienlien (2-2)|
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. North Carolina State Wolfpack March 30 - Blacksburg
|(6) NC State (22-5, 8-3)||3||0||1||2||2||0||3||3||0||14||17||0|
|Virginia Tech (11-14, 5-6)||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||0||2||5||3|
|W: Johnny Piedmonte (4-0)|
|L: Luke Scherzer (1-2)|
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. North Carolina State Wolfpack March 31 - Blacksburg
|(6) NC State (23-5, 9-3)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||1||7||2|
|Virginia Tech (11-15, 5-7)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||6||0|
|W: Reid Johnston (3-0)|
|L: Andrew McDonald (1-5)|
|SV: Joe O'Donnell (6)|
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Dayton Flyers April 4 - Blacksburg
|Virginia Tech (12-15)||3||4||2||0||2||7||1||0||X||19||15||2|
|W: Dylan Hall (2-2)|
|L: ERSNT, Aaron (0-1)|
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Virginia Cavaliers April 6 Game 1 - Charlottesville
|Virginia Tech (12-16, 5-8)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||3||3|
|Virginia (17-13, 5-8)||2||0||1||2||3||0||1||0||X||9||15||1|
|W: Derek Casey (4-2)|
|L: Connor Coward (2-3)|
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Virginia Cavaliers April 6 Game 2 - Charlottesville
|Virginia Tech (13-16, 6-8)||0||0||1||0||1||0||1||1||1||5||9||2|
|Virginia (17-14, 5-9)||0||0||0||2||1||0||0||1||0||4||6||1|
|W: Graham Seitz (3-0)|
|L: Bennett Sousa (2-3)|
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Virginia Cavaliers April 8 - Charlottesville
|Virginia Tech (13-17, 6-9)||0||0||0||3||0||1||1||0||0||5||9||1|
|Virginia (18-14, 6-9)||0||0||2||0||0||0||0||2||2||6||13||2|
|W: Bennett Sousa (3-3)|
|L: Joey Sullivan (0-3)|
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Marshall Thundering Herd April 10 - Blacksburg
|Virginia Tech (14-17)||1||1||0||1||4||0||4||0||X||11||14||0|
|W: Dylan Hall (3-2)|
|L: SIMON, Christian (1-1)|