Game 1 March 8th - 6:00 start in Tallahassee
Editors Note: This has been frustrating. Getting current rankings for baseball teams is like pulling those annoying little black tire shards from your shoes after walking for hours on artificial turf... everyone is different, you can never find the last one, and when you do think that you have found it, you haven’t.. one more shows up... ugh... I am using the rankings from the NCAA dated March 4th. FSU was ranked #11 almost a week ago. We’ll figure this out. It’s part of the issue with covering baseball. It’s information stream is very much an insiders game and we are just little old Gobbler Country.
It seems that the Hokies didn’t like sliding into a potential losing spin too well. They didn’t seem to notice the #11 (corrected from March 4th rankings - ed.) and undefeated Win-Loss Record the Seminoles had amassed to this point of the season. The Virginia Tech ACC Opener was potentially a blow out loss to an overpowering team. What it ended up being was three hard fought games where Tech was playing pitch for pitch and hit for hit the entire time.
Game One opened Friday night with something of a surprise; Tech jumped out to a 3 to 2 lead in the first three innings. Each team added a run in the 4th inning, but Tech remained in front. Starting pitcher Ian Seymour gave up five hits and three runs, but given the competition at the plate, that was an absolutely sterling run.
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Florida State Seminoles: Game 1
The Hokies added 2 runs in the top of the 7th, and it looked like with a 6-3 lead and ace closer Zach Brzykcy just couldn’t close the door while trying to hold the big sticks of FSU in the bottom of the 8th and 9th. FSU sent it into extra innings with a rough patch in the 8th. The Hokies managed to hold for the 9th, so the stage was set for extra baseball and something of a strain for the brand new Hokie bull pen.
The top of the 10th netted a very healthy and hopeful two runs with four singles, two with no outs to set the table from Jack Owens and Luke Horanski. After two quick outs, Hokies Kevin Madden and Reagan Teegarden each rapped critical RBI singles to get Owens and Horanski across the plate for a 2 run lead at the end of their half of the 10th.
For some unknown reason, Luke Starliper who seemed to be handling the ‘Noles in the bottom of the 10th with 2 outs and 1 on because of a walk was replaced by starting pitcher Luke Scherzer. Luke had some serious control issues immediately, and loaded the bases with a hit batter and a walk. A deep double cleared the bases and ended the Hokies’ bid for an series opening win as Florida State walked off in the bottom of the 10th.
Game 2: 12:00 Start of a Split Double Header March 9th
Now, everyone knows my opinion on this one. I hate double headers because more often than not they are split, with each team winning one, and they also tend to have weird roster moves that create serious management problems and pitching rotation issues. I honestly don’t remember that this series was scheduled with a Double Header on Saturday. I should remember, but I am confident that had the 3rd game been a conventional Sunday setup, the Hokies might just have had a shot at taking this series.
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Florida State Seminoles: Game 2 (Game 1 of the DH)
So when you read the line and the caption you get the real reason why I am sort of upset by the staging of the double header. It really put a blanket on what should have been noted as one of the best performances by the Hokies on the road in years, and an absolutely amazing 6 inning performance by Chris Gerard. You are seeing that number for FSU in the Hits column correctly. He made it through 7 innings before FSU managed a knock. That is absolutely stunning and even with the three non-consequential walks, Chris Gerard really needs to be recognized. If he can keep this up he’s going to be a solid addition to the starting pitching rotation.
Let’s not take away from Tech’s offense. They found their sticks on the way to Tallahassee, let’s hope they don’t leave them on the way home for the Richmond pair. Tech steadily manufactured runs in bunches, and Luke Horanski blasted another tater.
The truth is that I seriously doubt Florida State anticipated the fight that Tech put up. They were one emergency plug in pitcher stumble away from a series loss. And with the day game of the DH on Saturday the Hokies hung a 1 in the FSU “L” column.
Game 3: 12:00 Nightcap of a Split Double Header March 9th
As is the usual rotational effect for at least one double header game, it was a staff pitching effort for Game 3, and frankly it really wasn’t all that a bad outing for the bullpen committee. Unfortunately the runs came in with four pitchers eating five runs. Eventually Nic Enright would inherit the loss, but frankly hanging any one pitcher with a loss in a “pitch by bullpen committee” game is sort of unfair. This is really one game that the offense needed to pick up the tired pitchers.
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Florida State Seminoles: Game 3 Nightcap of the DH
What you have to note in this is that FSU didn’t score steadily. Tech managed to tie it up at 2 each by the 3rd inning, and the pitching staff managed to keep goose eggs hanging until the bottom of the 7th and 8th innings.
Unfortunately the Hokie offense managed two fewer goose eggs than the FSU offense, and there goes the old ball game.
All in all, this road trip was actually a success. It isn’t a stunning success, that would be for a series win, and a triumph would have been a sweep. Most of us in college baseball land were under the impression that Tech would be lucky to show up in Tallahassee and not get laughed off the diamond for three games. It seems that the Hokies were in no mood for such thoughts. They reared up and nearly beat FSU in the first game. Chris Gerard threw fire for 7 innings of near perfect baseball and shut out the number one college baseball team in the 2nd game, and hung a 7 inning tie on the ‘Noles for the 3rd and final game, only losing it in the last two innings.
Really, this is something that Coach Szefc and the Hokies can really build on. They proved that they can play baseball at the ACC level, and look, they are only getting started. It’s a team of Freshmen and Sophomores.
Next up Richmond comes to English Field at Union Park (from now on I am just calling it “The Park... K?”) Gobbler Country will be at Game 2 on Wednesday to take pictures and maybe do some social media from “The Park”.