The new collegiate baseball season opened in Conway, South Carolina for the Hokies. The Brittain Resorts hosted a Baseball at the Beach tournament where some pretty heavy duty baseball squads all descended to play a three game set. The weather ended up closing in by Sunday so those games were cancelled. Tech played San Diego State in the opener, then University of North Carolina - Greensboro, for the Saturday game and then they were supposed to finish up with the “home” team Coastal Carolina on Sunday. This was by no means an easy schedule to start a season with. All three teams are built on solid programs with Coastal Carolina being an NCAA Championship contender in most seasons.
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. San Diego State Aztecs
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The San Diego State game actually started out with some serious promise. Tech Starter Chris Gerard wasn’t exactly keeping the Aztecs off the bases, but they weren’t getting quality hits bunched together, and they certainly hadn’t crossed the plate. Gerard gave up 7 hits in his 5.1 innings, but it’s the goose egg on the scoreboard that counts. Combined with a steady first 6 innings at the plate and the Hokies went to the bull pen with a nice 4-0 lead. Unfortunately the Hokie Clipper sprung a leak, and the Bull Pen picked up where it left off last season... with problems getting outs... and giving up runs. Peyton Alford gave up 2 runs and only pitched for the 2 outs in the 6th. Then Coach Szefc put Jaison Heard to clear off the bases, but Alford had loaded the bases, and the merry-go-round started and ground through all three outs, putting 5 points on the board in the bottom of the 7th.. Heard received “credit” (some credit) for the loss, and the Hokie offense couldn’t muster more than one more run. The 7-5 score hit the great work of the Gerard. The Hokie offense for this game was mostly manufactured runs on smallball work. The big hit of the day came from a double by Spencer Palmer.
Saturday’s game with the Spartans of UNC-Greensboro ended in the same score, but it was arrived at by completely different means. UNCG and Tech battled it out for the first 6 innings. The Spartans held a 1 run lead Hokies’ starting pitcher Anthony Simonelli put up five modestly good innings but still managed to score 2 runs. He was pulled in the beginning of the 6th, and unfortunately gets rung up for the loss since the Hokies only managed to cross the plate once up to that point. The wheels fell off the cart in the 7th inning when UNCG extended its one run lead to 5 with a 4 run 7th that included a home run. The Hokies managed some offense in the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings but the Spartans managed to limit the damage, so they held on to the lead. The game ended at 7-5, but there was a spark of some life in the Hokies.
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. UNC-Greensboro Spartans
The weather on the Atlantic coast deteriorated, and the final game with Coastal Carolina was cancelled. Sometimes those are made up, later, and sometimes not.
Tuesday - Home Opener
There were two really pleasant surprises on Tuesday February 19th. The first was the weather. The Hokies’ baseball home openers in mid February usually look like Bleaksburg in mid-winter. Tuesday it looked like Spring in Blacksburg it was raining but the 52 degree temperature and light nature of the rain kept things reasonable. The weather suited the Hokies just fine. 3-0 (at the time) East Tennessee State University showed up at English Field, and that was about that.
The Hokies exploded for a 9 run 2nd inning, and ETSU just never got traction the entire game. Tech just had a great offensive flurry and that was aided by a bit Kevin Madden homer that pretty much slammed the door before the game even got going. Carson Taylor also added a nice insurance capper by putting a ball over the right center wall. These were the first two homers for each in the season, and for the team this season, too.
Ian Seymour got the start and credit for the win even though he only pitched 3 innings. After the game solidified, Coach Szefc seems to have fully used his bench to get his players some solid game time. Tech used 6 relievers over the last 6 innings. The bull pen stayed in control, and didn’t let ETSU get any momentum building to try their hands at a big inning or two.
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. East Tennessee State Athletics
This evening the Hokies are in Lafayette, Louisiana to face off with the Ragin’ Cajuns for a three game series. Hopefully the Hokies can grab the series. Chris Gerard is starting.