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#5 Virginia Tech Hokies Take the Series with the #7 Louisville Cardinals: 2 Games to 1

It didn’t start off well, and the weather wasn’t helping much, either. Hokies drop the first game and come back to win the Saturday and Sunday contests. Not much offense and lots of clutch run manufacturing to win the final 2. GO HOKIES!!!

Something most college teams need more of..
John Schneider - SB Nation (File)

The Ultimate Penultimate Series is a Bird Fight

Commencement week has been hectic for the campus, it’s also been a source of a bit of Hokie Sporting disappointment as the Softball team struggled at the plate in their game against Clemson and were eliminated from the ACC Tournament. The outdoor Track and Field team did well, but the men’s squad didn’t manage to win the ACC this year. They came in second, which is a rarity anymore.

Friday was the main Commencement exercise in Lane Stadium, and it was raining just to remind all of the departing Hokies that with great joy comes more than a bit of dreary wetness. Hokies are mudders so the rain didn’t seem to dampen any spirits that way, but the baseball team that took the field early (3:00 PM) on Friday didn’t manage to bring much of that excitement to their offensive effort.

Griffin Green started on the bump for the Hokies and pitched an excellent start. He held things in check and limited the Cardinals (no slouch opponents) to one run for most of his entire 5 13 innings.

Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Louisville Cardinals - Game 1 - May 13th

Hokies vs. Cardinals - Game 1

Team/Inning 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Team/Inning 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
>>Louisville 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 2 4 8 8 0
Virginia Tech 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 7 1
Hokie Relivers Couldn’t Hold on This One Hokie Sports

Unfortunately, the Cardinals got him in an extreme pinch in the top of the 6th inning, and pushed across the go-ahead (and winning) run. It wasn’t a work of offensive magic, it was good old fashioned run manufacturing and taking advantage of errors by the defense. In this case Louisville scored on a wild pitch that really got out of hand, so to speak.

The other major problem was the reality that the Hokies were batting with sticks of spaghetti for the entire game and only managed to plate a single run in the bottom of the 2nd inning to match Louisville’s run scored in the top of the inning.

Someone always has to get the “L” hung around their neck in regard to such events, but given the reality that until Louisville erupted with 6 runs over the 8th and 9th innings, the Hokies should have normally been able to overcome the Cards offense. No such luck this past Friday. The Hokies dropped this one by 8 runs, but in reality it was just the one in the 6th was all the Cardinals needed.

Some days you just pack up the sticks and gloves... and get ready to play again tomorrow...

Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Louisville Cardinals - Game 2 - May 14th

Saturday was another game played through hit or miss raindrops and sometimes even a rumble of thunder in the far distance. With Drue Hackenberg on the mound the Hokies had their best chance to pull down a series evening win and set up a rubber game on Sunday.

That looked to be the case as Louisville’s quality pitching finally coughed up a lead-off single by Nick Biddison in the bottom of the 3rd. As always, lead-off base runners are a constant problem and a very high percentage threat of scoring a run. Well, the Hokies didn’t need to manufacture anything complicated on this one. Gavin Cross (who is bubbling up in MLB draft rumors) stepped up to the plate and put a 2-2 pitch over the right field wall for 2 RBI and the lead.

Hokies vs. Cardinals - Game 2

Team/Inning 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Team/Inning 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Louisville 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 3 8 0
>>Virginia Tech 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 1 X 4 8 1
A low production battle to the finish Hokie Sports

Jack Hurley got on base with a nice knock, and then promptly stole second to push himself over to scoring position without wasting an out. The Hokies promptly loaded the bases (Connor Hartigan - walk, Cade Hunter - single) and with only one out registered, an Eduardo Malinowski fly ball allowed Hurley to score from 3rd.

That’s the way things stayed for the Hokie offense for 4 innings without much in the way of any offense. Meanwhile the Cardinals were nibbling away at the three-run lead one run at a time. They killed their skunk in the top of the 5th by working one run. They added another run in the top of the 7th as Hackenberg seemed to run out of gas and control giving up 2 singles and a wild pitch. So, he was replaced by Henry Weycker who capped the inning by getting the Cards to ground into an inning ending double-play.

It took until the 8th before the Hokies added a difference making insurance run. Brennan Reback (Pinch running for Connor Hartigan) scored a scrambling, walking, and a Carson DeMartini single. That run would be the difference in the game because the Cardinals would keep playing, too. They took advantage of a few Weycker control mistakes including a charged balk. The single run that crossed the plate on mistakes seems to have put a bit of fire in Weycker, however, because the next batter fouled out, and then he closed game 2 with a three-pitch swinging strikeout.

Hokie Game 2 Pitching was a Real Gem

Player Innings Knocks Plates Earned Plates Walks Fans Wild Stuff Plonks
Player Innings Knocks Plates Earned Plates Walks Fans Wild Stuff Plonks
Drue Hackenberg (W, 9-1) 6.1 5 2 2 1 7 1 0
Henry Weycker (S, 1) 2.2 3 1 0 0 3 0 2
TOTALS 8 3 2 1 10 1 2
Drue Hackenberg stays on fire Hokie Sports

There were some good moments in the game, but there were some issues that really are beginning to make most fans a bit concerned about the playoffs, when teams need to be producing from both the field and the plate. They won this one by a single run and holding off a dangerous team. That confidence builder would be necessary for Game 3, because Louisville is that kind of team... They came to Blacksburg to win and solidify their position in the ACC pool play action, and improve their seeding in the NCAA tournament that they are probably going to as well.

Game 2 Scoring Summary

Team Inning Play Description LOU VT
Team Inning Play Description LOU VT
Virginia Tech 3rd G. Cross homered to right field- 2 RBI (2-2 KFBB)- N. Biddison scored. 0 2
Virginia Tech 3rd E. Malinowsk flied out to cf- SF- RBI (2-2 KSBB)- J. Hurley scored. 0 3
Louisville 5th Anderson singled up the middle- RBI (1-1 FB)- Beard advanced to third- Masterman scored. 1 3
Louisville 7th Beard singled through the right side- RBI (2-2 FBKB)- Humphrey scored. 2 3
Virginia Tech 8th C. DeMartini singled up the middle- RBI (0-1 F)- L. Donlon advanced to second- B. Reback scored. 2 4
Louisville 9th Beard singled up the middle- RBI (1-2 BKF)- Humphrey advanced to second- Masterman scored- unearned. 3 4
TOTALS 3 4
Hokies needed every single run in this one Hokie Sports

Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Louisville Cardinals - Game 3 - May 15th

Sunday morning in Blacksburg started off in one of those dense foggy halfway between warm and cool humid mornings. The start of the game had been moved up to 11:00 just to account for the potential of storms moving into the area in late afternoon. Really, I think that both teams just wanted to get moving and get the series decided, but we’ll let the weatherman give them excuses. The crowd was relatively small since it’s BugOut Weekend and only townies, families, and a few friends were still hanging around to attend.

With no third starting pitcher, Coach Szefc chose to put one of his better long relievers, Jordan Gerber up on the bump to start. He pitched a one hit, no run quality four innings that took a whole lot of momentum out of Louisville’s sails.

Meanwhile the Hokies weren’t producing a ton offensively, either. Tech wouldn’t get started until the bottom of the 4th, when Nick Biddison was plonked on the first pitch of the lead-off at-bat. That’s never very good, but when batters like Gavin Cross are up it’s worse. Cross got an “idea” and blasted another tater, for the second game in a row, over the right field fence. Those two runs wouldn’t last long on the board by themselves, however.

Jonah Hurney relieved Gerber and got into trouble through an odd set of backdoor nibbles. He induced a ground out to start, but then was victimized by a bunt single. He got the next batter to ground out, and then promptly ran into the 2022 2-out curse. He walked the next batter, then there was a critical fielding error, then loaded bases and a single. That adds up to two runs. Hurney knuckled down and struck out the final batter of the inning, but the score was tied, and the Hokie bats were still not connecting in a positive manner.

Hokies vs. Cardinals - Game 3

Team/Inning 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Team/Inning 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Louisville 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 2 0 4 6 0
>>Virginia Tech 0 0 0 2 0 1 2 1 X 6 12 2
Hokies Take the Series in another close one Hokie Sports

The Hokies finally got something convincing in the way of offense going in the bottom of the 6th with three singles in a row by Gavin Cross, Tanner Schobel, and then the RBI by Jack Hurley. The tie was finally broken but the Hokies certainly allowed the Cards to hang around.

The Hokies managed a bit of long ball to score a run with Carson DeMartini getting a knock, and Nick Biddison thumping a deep right center field triple to score Carson from 1st base. That big insurance run was backed up by another Gavin Cross single which scored DeMartini. That combination proved to be the winning run because Louisville would not go away.

The Cardinals came right back by victimizing Graham Firoved with a homerun, and the working a 10 pitch at-bat that knocked Firoved out of the game. Kiernan Higgins had to clean up but one more run would score making the tally at the beginning of the bottom of the 8th at 5-4 Hokies. That’s a really slim lead, and the Hokie bullpen has been struggling to keep close leads late in games.

Cade Hunter would lead-off the bottom of the 8th with a single, and after two outs and stealing 2nd base, he crossed the plate on an RBI single by Carson DeMartini. That only put up one insurance run with a really high powered and determined Louisville offense looking to make Yogi Berra more of a prophet.

Higgins was left on the mound to close the door. It wasn’t an emphatic slam, however. He did get a fast three pitch googly eye strikeout by the Card’s leadoff batter, but then got himself in a pinch by hitting the next batter and giving up a single. The tying run was on the bags, and Higgins needed to stop the bleeding. He got the second to the last batter to fly out, and then induced a ground ball to short for the final out.

Hokies Got Out in Front but Cardinals Battled Back - Game 3

Team Inning Play Description LOU VT
Team Inning Play Description LOU VT
Virginia Tech 4th G. Cross homered to right field- 2 RBI (1-1 BK)- N. Biddison scored. 0 2
Louisville 5th Rushing singled up the middle- 2 RBI (1-2 KSB)- Metzinger advanced to third- J. Payton scored- unearned- No. Smith scored- unearned. 2 2
Virginia Tech 6th J. Hurley singled through the right side- RBI (2-2 BFFBF)- T. Schobel advanced to second- G. Cross scored. 2 3
Virginia Tech 7th N. Biddison tripled to right center- RBI (2-2 BSBK)- C. DeMartini scored. 2 4
Virginia Tech 7th G. Cross singled up the middle- RBI (1-1 BS)- N. Biddison scored. 2 5
Louisville 8th Rushing homered to right field- RBI (1-2 BFFF). 3 5
Louisville 8th Usher singled up the middle- RBI (1-1 KB)- Seng scored. 4 5
Virginia Tech 8th C. DeMartini singled to center field- RBI (1-2 BKS)- C. Hunter scored. 4 6
TOTALS 4 6
Another really close game where every run counted Hokie Sports

For a pitch by committee game, this was the second good quality performance from the bull pen, especially Gerber’s nice four inning goose egg start.

Hokie Pitching for Game 3

Player Innings Knocks Plates Earned Plates Walks Fans Wild Stuff Plonks
Player Innings Knocks Plates Earned Plates Walks Fans Wild Stuff Plonks
Jordan Geber 4 1 0 0 1 5 0 1
Jonah Hurney (W, 5-1) 3 2 2 0 1 3 0 0
Graham Firoved 0.1 1 2 2 1 0 0 0
Kiernan Higgins (S, 4) 1.2 2 0 0 0 2 0 1
TOTALS 6 4 2 3 10 0 2
Pitch-by-Committee eventually closed the door Hokie Sports

There is one note of concern as the Hokies managed their 25th home victory this afternoon and look at a solid positioning for both the ACC Tournament and the NCAA to follow. The bats have gotten pretty quiet for almost the entire team. It’s going to be a short and disappointing playoff push if the Hokies can’t find their big hammers in time.

It’s still a win and it’s the first series win over Louisville since forever. The Hokies have a chance with a sweep of the next 4 games (not impossible by any means) could have a 40-win season. Someone find out when this team has done that.

Kansas State comes Tuesday afternoon/evening. Wow is that a long way for a single game. And then Duke visits on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday to close out the regular season. Again, the Hokies have a shot at sweeping their way out of the season. What a difference a year makes.

GO HOKIES!!!!