Virginia Tech Baseball jumped out to a 7-0 start to the 2019 season, which was their best record through seven games since the 1987 season, when they also started 7-0.
However, it’s been a struggle of late for Tech on the diamond, and those struggles continued on Tuesday afternoon on the road against Liberty. The Hokies fell to the Flames 4-3 in Lynchburg, which is their third loss in the last four games after the Bryant Bulldogs came into Blacksburg and took two out of three over the weekend. It was Virginia Tech’s first loss on the season in a one-run game.
The Hokies started fast in this one, as junior transfer Kerry Carpenter blasted his team-leading fifth home run of the year, a solo shot in the first inning to give Tech a 1-0 lead. Liberty responded quickly in the bottom of the first, as shortstop Cam Locklear knocked in an RBI single to tie the game at one a piece.
In the third inning, Liberty broke the tie with another RBI single in the third, this time by catcher Gray Betts. Trailing 2-1 heading into the fourth, the Hokies responded with some small ball. Kerry Carpenter scored on a wild pitch to tie the game at two, and Luke Horanski hit a sacrifice fly later in the inning to score first baseman Carson Taylor to help the Hokies regain the lead, 3-2.
The story of the game was clearly the response of each offense, as Liberty once again bounced back in the home half of the fourth to tie the game at three, as right fielder Brandon Rohrer knocked in an RBI single. The decisive run for Liberty came later, in the sixth inning, when Liberty outfielder Trey McDyre hit a pinch-hit solo home run off Hokies pitcher Ryan Okuda.
The 4-3 score held through the final three games, as the Hokies dropped their second straight contest and their third in the last four games. It does not get any easier from here for Virginia Tech. They are off until Friday, when they travel to Tallahassee to kickoff ACC play with a three-game weekend set against the top-ranked Florida State Seminoles.
I don’t want to set the bar too low for this young Virginia Tech bunch, but they will be clearly outmatched this weekend against a program that is at a different stage of development and maturity.
If the Hokies can win a game in this series, it would be a good stepping stone for the program. Taking two of three and winning the series, while remote, would set the confidence of the team at a high level to carry them throughout the rest of the schedule.
This will be a good measuring stick this weekend for the Virginia Tech program in year two under John Szefc. Let’s see how it shakes out.