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Virginia Tech Hokies Defeat the Oklahoma Sooners to Force an All or Nothing Game 3

At the close of the game on Friday, there was a glimmer of hope. Late in the game the Hokies began to find their offensive confidence and the place that they stashed their hammers. This was a must win game. And the Hammerin’ Hokies made it known why they have that nickname. GO HOKIES!!!

Virginia Tech v North Carolina
Leadoff batter Nick Biddison was definitely the leader in today’s game.
Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

When It Starts off Well, It Usually Ends That Way, Too

The Hokies had a noon game to figure out how to win. It was an unusual game time for any part of the season, but somehow the usual routines for a weekend three game series weren’t going to do for Virginia Tech, this time. With the Friday afternoon “L” on the books, the Sooners were in the catbird seat, and the Hokies were definitely worried about looking like real turkeys. The good news from Friday was that Tech had found the range and the confidence to begin to string together some run scoring events by the end of the game and only came up 2 short of a walk-off. The other good news was that the Hokie Bull Pen - which had struggled on and off the entire season, was suddenly finding some purpose and consistency. They were missing bats and keeping the Hokies in their games.

Saturday was going to be a big challenge off the bump and at the plate. Drue Hackenberg was starting and there were certainly measurably good hopes that he’d fixed a few shaky issues that had created some disappointing shortened outings in the post season. There were certainly hopes that he could go for at least five full so that there could be some easing of pressure on the Bull Pen. That’s understandable under all circumstances, but in the playoffs, with the all-or-nothing games on the line, a fresh top end of the BP is not just desirable it’s the difference between winning and losing. We’ll see the skinny soon, but first we need to start the game - and because it’s a tournament the Hokies had to play the visiting team on one of the three days - if there were going to be three.

What was obvious from Friday, was the real need for the Hokies to make an opening and emphatically loud statement. That turned out to be the doings of 1st Baseman Nick Biddison. Nick has been the leadoff batter for the entire season and his stats have been impressive. He really outdid himself on Saturday. Biddison took the 2nd pitch from Oklahoma’s starting pitcher David Sandlin over the wall for trip around the bags to the 3rd base dugout and the big hammer. The next three batters popped up and/or hit deep flies. That set the tone, though. The Hokies of Saturday were not the Hokies of Friday and the Sooners looked to be a bit stunned for a few minutes.

Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Oklahoma Sooners - Game 2 NCAA Super Regionals

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
>>Virginia Tech 1 0 4 0 4 3 1 0 1 14 15 0
Oklahoma 0 0 3 1 1 0 0 3 0 8 8 3
The Hokies played their game on Saturday Hokie Sports

Drue Hackenberg tossed a pretty emphatic three-up-three down bottom of the first, But there was a warning sign in that. It took him 20 pitches to pull it off, and the Sooners’ top of the order was finding the range on his offerings.

Hack managed a clean 2nd inning as well, but again the pitch count was high, and he issued a walk. The final out was a swinging strike out, but that was after he had fallen behind the batter 3-0. The Sooners were working their at-bats and working Drue’s arm hard. With a 1-0 lead there just wasn’t much buffer to sit on, either.

The Hokies looked like they were going to give Hackenberg some good breathing room with the top of the third. Carson DeMartini hammered the ball into deep right center field for an emphatic double. Biddison worked a long at-bat but struck out. That brought Gavin Cross to the plate. Cross took the third pitch of his at-bat over the right-center wall for a 2 RBI homer. Tanner Schobel struck out, but Jack Hurley worked a walk on seven pitches. Our batters were doing to the Sooner starter what they were doing to ours. The long at-bat seemed to have the desired effect, because Catcher Cade Hunter took the first pitch over the right field fence for the 2nd 2-RBI homerun of the inning. Carson Jones ended the inning with a KO, but 5-0 is a solid lead to hand your starting pitcher.

The Bull Pen Picks Up Starting Pitching, Again

Unfortunately, Hackenberg immediately got himself into trouble by hitting the leadoff batter. He did manage to strike out the 2nd guy up, but walked the third. With runners on 1st and 2nd he looked like he might get out of the inning by forcing a foul out to the next batter, but gave up an RBI single on the 4th pitch of the at-bat. That broke the Sooner’s stunned spell from the opening home run fest. It also seemed to rattle Hackenberg because he hit the next batter. (The play was reviewed, but reviews, today were not falling to the Hokies at all.) The Sooners singled on the next at-bat which scored a run and loaded the bases.

It’s the playoffs, and Coach Szefc had seen enough. This wasn’t something to get Hackenberg to work through. This was an open wound that needed quick patching. Szefc called for Christian Worley to clear off the mess.

Hokie Pitching Stats for Game 2

Player Innings Knocks Plates Earned Plates Walks Fans Wild Stuff Plonks
Player Innings Knocks Plates Earned Plates Walks Fans Wild Stuff Plonks
Drue Hackenberg 2.2 2 3 3 3 3 0 2
Christian Worley 0.1 1 1 1 1 1 0 0
Jonah Hurney (W, 6-1) 4 2 1 1 0 7 0 0
Ryan Metz 0.1 2 3 3 1 1 0 0
Graham Firoved 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0
Kiernan Higgins 1.2 1 0 0 0 2 0 0
TOTALS 8 8 8 7 14 0 2
But there were some hitches in the git-along Hokie Sports

The Offense Found the Hammers, and Bats, and Eyes, Too

It was 5-3, and that’s a pretty slim lead to be sitting on. The Hokies were well aware of that and tried to get some insurance action going but DeMartini and Biddison singles were bracketed by three strikeouts.

Worley issued forth a cement mixer of a 2nd pitch to start off the bottom of the 4th with a home run by Oklahoma. His 9-pitch walk of the next batter to put the tying run on the bags was enough for Coach Szefc to call in some new arm strength. Jonah Hurney has been pretty consistent, and has also picked up some solid momentum as the season has closed. He’s quietly become one of Tech’s best relievers.

Game 2 was Hurney’s masterpiece game. He induced a ground out, and then nabbed two strikeouts to end the inning with that single run. Now it was going to be a matter of how long he could keep that up. The Hokies needed him to stay on the bump for a few innings or risk seriously thinning the bull pen out for a possible (probable -but no one was jinxing anything).

But we’re talking offense, and the top of the 5th was all about all kinds of different offense for the Hokies. Tanner Schobel got off the schneid by clearing the wall on the third pitch of the inning. Leadoff homers are good, remember Biddison’s lighting off two innings of fireworks, earlier. Hurley and Hunter singled. Then the Hokies tried a little razzle dazzle as they tried get Hurley across home plate on a fielder’s choice. Nope that wasn’t happening. BUT the Sooners were forced to change pitchers for some reason, and messed up the battery rhythm for the Sooner’s catcher. He developed a hole in his glove that allowed Cade Hunter to score on the passed ball. Carson Jones scored on a Malinowski contact play, then Conor Hartigan scored on Carson DeMartini single. The Hokies were up 9-4 and that scoring burst eventually proved to be enough to win.

Oklahoma was still a potent threat and would eventually push across 4 more runs in the game but the Hokies kept up a steady barrage of innings with something scored in them. Three runs came in the 6th. There was a comedy of Sooner 2 fielding errors - workin a steal of 2nd into a score.

The Hokies gave back three runs in the bottom of the 9th, but that’s as close as Oklahoma got since the one run difference earlier in the game. Then, sort of adding to the notion that the Hokies were coming loaded for bear tomorrow, Nick Biddison, who’s home run started the Hokie scoring on the first at-bat of the game... slammed the door and all hope faded as his 3rd pitch blast cleared the left-center wall in the top of the 9th.

Hokie Box Score for Game 2

Position Player At Bats Runs Hits RBI Free Bags Kos Stranded
Position Player At Bats Runs Hits RBI Free Bags Kos Stranded
1B Nick Biddison 5 2 3 2 1 2 1
CF Gavin Cross 5 2 2 2 0 1 2
SS Tanner Schobel 5 1 1 1 0 1 1
LF Jack Hurley 4 2 1 0 1 1 0
C Cade Hunter 4 3 3 2 0 1 0
RF Carson Jones 5 1 1 2 0 2 0
DH Conor Hartigan 3 1 1 0 2 2 0
2B Eduardo Malinowski 4 0 0 1 0 2 1
3B Carson DeMartini 4 2 3 1 1 0 0
TOTALS 39 14 15 11 5 12 5
The score looked close but these numbers don’t lie Hokie Sports

It was a team win. The Bull Pen pulled it out of the fire, again. Jonah Hurney ended up going four innings, getting credit for the win, and fanning 7 batters. It was a career day for him, and his single earned run given up ended up being inconsequential.

The Hokies take to the field tomorrow as the home team again. It’s all or nothing for everything. Tech will have to pull out all of the stops. It’s going to be a pitch by committee game, so the bats will need to be hot, the base running aggressive, and the crowd extra loud.

It’s One All in Blacksburg with Everything on the Line...

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