It was a long trip on the road, and the Hokies rolled home with a pile of W’s. There were a couple of L’s in there, but this is baseball and those come and go. This season has been a special one for the Hokies, though. The #5 ranking is raging beyond expectations. This team has never flown in such rarified air. There are actually Hokies showing up in NCAA Stats. Yesterday’s results are below, and notice that it’s top 10 for every poll.
↔️#Hokies ⚾️ pic.twitter.com/SHHXLqa0LL— Virginia Tech Baseball (@HokiesBaseball) May 9, 2022
And look at who we are ahead of in those polls numbers:
#ACCBASE.— ACC Baseball (@ACCBaseball) May 9, 2022
Just so . pic.twitter.com/UClcECzleY
So, with all of that hoopla and confetti being tossed around the two-game Mother’s Day weekend series against Villanova was going to be a no brainer snap. Right? Well, as we have said before the Wildcats had some other “ideas”.
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Villanova Wildcats - Game 1 - May 7th
Game 1 against ‘Nova started out as a real shock to the Hokie Bird system. The ‘cats nearly ate the birds early on Saturday. Griffin Green, normally a quality starter had one of “those games” and the offense managed to leave their bats somewhere in a storage closet. The resulting five run hole was looking pretty grim for the first few innings. It took four for someone to locate the hammers and get them to the the third base dugout.
Hokies vs. Wildcats - Game 1 Started in a Panic
That meant that Hokie pitching had to knuckle down and get the ball across the plate with exactly no more runs crossing the plate. Jonah Hurney was brought in to deal for the 3rd inning and managed just that feat. He kept the pitches and hits down and managed to keep the Wildcats from adding to their lead. With the game suddenly devolving into pitch by committee, it was important to keep Jonah’s pitch count down but maintain that big fat zero on the scoreboard until the Hokies managed to find the bats and use them.
That all started in the bottom of the 5th inning. Lucas Donlon led off the inning with a single on the third pitch, and the scoring dam broke with it. Carson DeMartini found his bat and grabbed a knock. Then a bit of fumble fingers happened for the Wildcats on a Nick Biddison bunt single. The resulting error plated that always problematic lead-off, and the horses thundered out of the barn.
By the end of the inning the Hokies had batted around and scored six runs with 10 players coming to the plate. They passed ‘Nova and never looked back.
Offensive Action Summary for Game 1
At the Plate
Doubles: Eduardo Malinowski (2)
Triples: Nick Biddison (1)
Home Runs: Cade Hunter (1)
On the Bases
Steals: Gavin Cross (2); Tanner Schobel (1)
Hit By Pitch: Lucas Donlon (1)
Villanova never really threatened much the remainder of the game and Virginia Tech’s 2nd bat around for 6 in the bottom of the 7th put the game out of any practical reach. The Hokies would add three more runs in the bottom of the 8th and by then Coach Szefc had let off the gas by substituting in most of everyone.
Hokie Offense Got a Late Start for Game 2 and Accelerated Away
Hokie pitchers Graham Firoved and Ryan Metz efficiently closed the door on the Wildcats for game one, but that Sunda game was coming, and Villanova still had some “ideas”.
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Villanova Wildcats - Game 2 - May 8th
If game one was a come from behind blow out, Game 2 was the “baseball is boring” crowd’s worst dream. Folks, we had a pitchers’ duel going. Drue Hackenberg was throwing some flame. Unfortunately, so was Villanova’s hurler.
Just Enough Offense for Game 2
There just isn’t much thrilling fun to write about when two quality pitchers are working their trade. The bats have holes and the balls have homing devices for leather. Baseball purists are scribbling, oohing and ahhing over pitches and deliveries... great fielding, and that sort of statistical stuff that gets the casual fan annoyed. Well casual Hokie baseball fans were miffed, big time, on Sunday. The Mom’s in attendance didn’t seem to notice, though.
Game 2 Pitching for the Hokies
|Player||Innings||Knocks||Plates||Earned Plates||Walks||Fans||Wild Stuff||Plonks|
|Player||Innings||Knocks||Plates||Earned Plates||Walks||Fans||Wild Stuff||Plonks|
|Kiernan Higgins (W, 2-0)||0.1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
Eventually, though there is a break in the non-action and a pitcher’s ERA shows up. Drue’s is a miniscule 2.51 at the time of this writing. That’s absolutely amazing, but when the bats are nowhere to be found it means that giving up those two amounts to trouble.
That’s when quality pitchers get fumed at the guys in the dugout with the bats. Tech had managed a single plate crossing in their half of the 1st; but nothing else until late. By then the Hokies were in a bit of a pinch with the Wildcats having put 2 runs up in the top of the 7th.
Not Much Contact and Not Much on the Bags, Either
Just Enough Offense - Only Just, Though
|Virginia Tech||1st||T. Schobel doubled down the lf line- RBI (1-1 BF)- N. Biddison scored.||0||1|
|Villanova||7th||O'Neill- P. doubled down the lf line- 2 RBI (1-0 B)- Hansen- AJ scored- unearned- Whooley- J. scored- unearned.||2||1|
|Virginia Tech||8th||G. Cross homered to right field- RBI (1-1 BK).||2||2|
|Virginia Tech||9th||C. DeMartini doubled to left center- ground-rule- RBI (1-1 BF)- L. Donlon advanced to third- E. Malinowsk scored.||2||3|
Well, Gavin Cross managed to find his magic hammer and evened the score back up in the bottom of the 8th while reliever Henry Weycker kept the Wildcats from crossing the plate but the top of the 9th got sticky. He worked two outs into the inning but Villanova managed to get a runner in scoring position. With a low scoring tie game, one run could make all the difference. The coaching staff decided to put the ball in a fresh reliever’s hands, and that turned out to be the correct choice. Kiernan Higgins came in for the critical final out of the Wildcat half of the 9th. He induced a ground ball on two pitches and the Wildcats were left to hope for extra innings.
Every baseball player does the fantasy scenarios. The first one is that pitching thing where you come in to save the day for that last critical out in the bad situation. The second is not being “The Mighty Casey”. The Hokies were either facing extra baseball on Mothers’ Day or grabbing a walk off. With a bat rack full of toothpicks, that wasn’t going to be an easy feat. Sometimes you do the hard things and do them well.
The 9th inning started out like there was not going to be a 10th. Eduardo Malinowski led off the inning with a single (there’s the curse of the lead-off working again). But the hope faded as Cade Hunter flied out with no sacrifice advance to 2nd, and then Christian Martin struck out. Here’s the big scene. Two outs a man on first and you have the chance to do something great. Well, Lucas Donlon didn’t do anything really truly great, just good solid baseball. He worked a walk which pushed Malinowski to scoring position at 2nd. My old man always said, if you can’t be great, be “good”. With only one out hung, and a great need to advance the runner, Donlon managed “good”.
Then there was another Freshman being noted by the rest of the baseball world. Carson DeMartini, with a runner in scoring position and a chance for a walk-off, was probably wondering about all of those times before when he was thinking about that fantasy scenario. And no, he didn’t show up as “The Mighty Casey”. On the third pitch of his at-bat, DeMartini stroked a beautiful long shot into deep left center that bounced over the wall which was a a) a ground rule double, but more importantly it allowed the umps to let Malinowski advance the two bases necessary to win the walk-off.
When you can’t win one way, you figure out another way and do that. If that doesn’t work you do something else. Something else worked this time. The Hokies swept the short series, and stretched their overall record to an amazing, and unheard of in Hokie baseball lore, 33 wins and 10 losses. Drue Hackenberg received a No Decision, but he also was noted for his 7th quality start.
(8-1, 2.51 ERA) logged his quality start of the 2022 season on Sunday against Villanova.— Virginia Tech Baseball (@HokiesBaseball) May 8, 2022
He did so without conceding a walk or an earned run.#Hokies ⚾️ pic.twitter.com/z9cr9Q85tD
The Hokies managed two different kinds of wins this past weekend. Tomorrow evening, always dangerous Liberty comes out US 460 for a visit. The first pitch is still scheduled for 7:00 PM and the weather is predicted to be a lovely mid-70s with no chance of rain anywhere to be seen.