It was an absolutely perfect Spring like day for March 1st (In like a Lamb, out like a Lion?) with temperatures in the high 50s to low 60s. The first pitch happened at 4:01 pm, and there was no doubt that the Panthers weren’t intimidated in the first few innings of the matchup. They came to play some baseball.
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. High Point Panthers - Tuesday Game
Tuesday games are usually the “Pitch by Committee” deals where the relievers and younger pitchers get a chance to take the mound for a few innings. High Point’s pitching rotation for the game in the first five innings was pretty solid. Tech wasn’t making a ton of quality contact, and when they did get a knock or a walk, didn’t do much with it.
High Point, on the other hand wasn’t exactly shelling the Tech rotation, but it certainly was putting runners across the plate.
The Hokies scored first in the bottom of the 2nd after a pretty discouraging 1st, because they completely wasted Nick Biddison’s HBP steal 2nd, 2 steal 3rd, with no out base appearance. The fly out and two strike outs that followed were head shakers. Hokies didn’t need a hammer; they needed a cricket bat.
High Point managed to work a run because of some rather nice small ball in the top of the third, after Tech’s small ball run in the bottom of the 2nd. The Panthers took the lead in the top of the 4th with another small ball effort.
The Hokies had to wait until the bottom of the 5th to get a run across to tie it up but wasted the single by Tanner Schobel and Gavin Cross double capped by some nice base running with two big whiffs. Only one run scored (Cross) and no real momentum built for a line to move.
High Point took the lead back in the top of the 6th with some base running and run scored on a wild pitch by Hokie Jackson Ritchey. HPU was up by one run again, and Tech’s offense was running out of outs to do something more than nibble. Tech knotted it back up with a Carson DeMartini triple followed by a Sam Tackett sacrifice fly, but the 2 on rally ended with a ground out into a double play by Gavin Cross.
Maybe there was some frustration and a few choice words, or signs, from the dugout but Jonah Hurney took the mound in the top of the 7th and issued forth with an authoritative 3 up/3 down to get the birds back in the batters’ box.
Tanner Schobel worked a leadoff walk and guess what folks - leadoff walks always hurt late. Schobel stole second, and the fuse behind the line ignited. Tech exploded for five runs in the inning, and suddenly the struggling birds were the strutting Hokies, again. This time it wasn’t going yard, though. It was solid line moving singles and base running with some gift wild pitches from the Panther reliever staff. The head shaking five run 5th was highlighted by its “low lights”. I am sure High Point’s coach wasn’t pleased to have that number of runs score on two singles and a pile of walks and bad pitches. As they say, “That’s Baseball, people”.
Virginia Tech Hokies Offensive Box Score
Tech tacked on two more runs in the 8th, with some small ball stuff and an opportune double, but there weren’t any offensive rallies in this game. It was just being patient and getting runs where they could be plated. There are always multiple ways to win games, and with a 10 to 4 score, you’d have thought this was a Hokie run away, but it wasn’t. High Point came to play ball, and with the exception of their pitching meltdown in that five-run 7th, they had a real shot at winning this game.
Tech’s Offensive Highlights are certainly on the light side, this time:
Doubles: Gavin Cross (1); Jack Hurley (1); Carson DeMartini (1); Nick Holesa (1)
Triples: Carson DeMartini (1)
Sacrifice Flies: Eduardo Malinowski (1); Carson DeMartini (1); Sam Tackett (1)
Stolen Bases: Nick Biddison (3); Tanner Schobel (2)
Hit by Pitch: Nick Biddison (1); Eduardo Malinowski (1)
So, the Hokies pull this one Jonah Hurney was credited with the win. A “W” gets written in the books, and Coach Szefc can remind the team that patience and manufacturing runs can win games, but not everything is going to be a runaway, even if it looks like it might have been.
Next up for the weekend series, Wright State comes to Blacksburg. East Carolina will be showing up for the Tuesday game, and then Tech gets on the road to start the ACC season in Atlanta against the Other Tech of the ACC.