If I Hadn’t Seen It, I’d Have Said You Were Full of Prunes
So, my family decided that it was a beautiful Blacksburg evening, and there was a big ballgame going on, and well, the ACCNetwork was more interested in their unapologetic Wahoo fandom, so we bought some cheap seat tickets and headed over to the ballpark to catch the Columbia game. As we found a spot on the concrete block stoops along the 3rd base line, it became pretty obvious that the crowd was not only there in June which is amazing, yes; but it was happy and roaring.
The Hokies weren’t the home team for this one, which always feels a bit weird. We were seeing Columbia’s very Carolina Blue displayed, and they had a pretty big cheering section. We were a bit on the tardy side since we had to pick one family member up from work. As we were sitting down, the Hokies were in the lead 1-0 and the bottom of the 1st had just wrapped up. That was relatively good news,
When I checked the 1st inning play-by-play I noticed something odd, though. Not a whole lot of Hokie contact was being made with the ball. Well, not the kind you want. The Lions’ starting pitcher hit Gavin Cross, then gave up a single to Tanner Schobel, and then loaded the bases by plonking Cade Hunter. He then walked Carson Jones who earned an RBI for having a good eye and some patience (7 pitches with two foul offs) . the Hokies made a little contact in the top of the 2nd, but two singles, a fly ball and a pop out weren’t particularly magical.
Virginia Tech Hokies vs. Columbia Lions - Game 2 of the Blacksburg Regionals
The Lions came to the plate in the bottom of the 2nd, and immediately challenged starting pitcher Griffin Green with a ringing double on the 4th pitch of the leadoff at-bat. The stadium collectively groaned. Big emphatic knocks this early in the game mean someone’s going to have a sucky outing, and Green’s notice was made even ruder by two more singles, a tied game, and only one out on the board with bases loaded. Green managed to staunch the blood flow by limiting the Lions to one more run on a contact play, and the induced a foul out to end the inning. With the playoffs and advancing without having to play a double header on Sunday at stake, Coach Szefc left Griffin in the dugout for the bottom of the third.
The top of the 3rd went pretty much nowhere after Jack Hurley’s leadoff single. The Hokies did lots of defying odds last evening, so you had to know that the Hokie fans in the stands were getting a bit itchy, yours truly included. That’s when golden locks flowing and wicked off speed stuff working, Hokie reliever Jordan Geber dished a well-organized 3 batter goose egg that included a nifty double play to end the inning and cure a leadoff walk.
That’s when I run out of words, descriptions, concepts, or even off-the-wall thoughts. Let’s just pull up the 4th inning scoring summary extracted from Hokie Sports Baseball Box Score tracker. It’s really the only way that I am going to get through this article before the next game starts at 7:00 PM.
Hokie Scoring Summary for the 4th inning
|Team||Inning||Play Description||RBI Count|
|Team||Inning||Play Description||RBI Count|
|Virginia Tech||4th||T. Schobel doubled to left center- 3 RBI (1-2 BFK)- N. Biddison scored- C. DeMartini scored- C. Hartigan scored.||3|
|Virginia Tech||4th||J. Hurley singled to right field- RBI (2-2 BBFF)- T. Schobel scored.||1|
|Virginia Tech||4th||C. Jones singled through the right side- RBI (0-0)- C. Hunter advanced to third- J. Hurley scored.||1|
|Virginia Tech||4th||C. Hartigan walked- RBI (3-0 BBBB)- E. Malinowsk advanced to second- C. Jones advanced to third- C. Hunter scored.||1|
|Virginia Tech||4th||C. DeMartini tripled down the rf line- 3 RBI (3-2 BBBKSF)- C. Hartigan scored- E. Malinowsk scored- C. Jones scored.||3|
|Virginia Tech||4th||N. Biddison homered to left field- inside the park- 2 RBI (1-0 B)- C. DeMartini scored.||2|
|Virginia Tech||4th||J. Hurley singled to right field- RBI (0-0)- T. Schobel advanced to second- G. Cross scored.||1|
|Virginia Tech||4th||C. Hunter doubled to left center- 2 RBI (1-0 B)- J. Hurley scored- T. Schobel scored.||2|
The Hokies batted a full three times around the order with Connor Hartigan almost mercifully striking out to end the inning. There was literally everything going on for this one, it was nearly one teams entire game packed into 1⁄2 of an inning. Even Coach Szefc noted that he’d never seen a 14-run inning. I have, but it was in a slow pitch softball game, and I tossed away my score book because my team was on the short side of it. You have to feel for the Lions, just a bit but not too too much.
A serious hat tip needs to be made for Tanner Schobel who seemed to be the guy getting this whole insane thing rolling. His at-bat looked a bit like he might strike out as he eyed the three Hokies haunting the bases. That wasn’t the case last evening, because the hope of maybe getting a tying run up by some sort of sacrifice or walk and then working another on something else, evaporated in a loud emphatic clink of the bat. Schobel ripped a line shot off the wall in deep left center field that cleared all three bases and planted Tanner firmly on 2nd. It was probably the most exciting play of the game but only by the hair of one run since in the same inning Nick Biddison dropped a towering ball deep into the left field corner and literally flew around the bases to turn it into a 2-run inside the park homer.
Geber held the mound quite nicely for his three-inning relief stint. He did have Columbia run into a change-up that got a bit high in the zone for a solo shot, but managed to limit that to the only big effort for his trip to the mound for the game. He struck out one and induced two ground outs in the 5th.
Coach Szefc put senior reliever Ryan Okuda on the mound for Geber (who got credit for the win) and moved out Cade Hunter from behind the plate to give Gehrig Ebel some innings catching. Funny thing about putting the back-up-guys in. Sometimes they surprise you. As they were interviewing reliver Graham Firoved.
I guess even though he’d gotten some revenge for being plonked in the top of the 7th by scoring a run. Gehrig took a ball downtown over the left field fence for a 2 RBI dinger.
Hokie Offensive Highlights from Game 2 - Columbia
Two-baggers: Tanner Schobel (2); Cade Hunter (1)
Three-baggers: Gavin Cross (1); Carson DeMartini (1)
Taters: Nick Biddison (1); Gavin Cross (1); Gehrig Ebel (1)
On the Bags:
It was Plonk City: Nick Biddison (1); Gavin Cross (1); Cade Hunter (1); Gehrig Ebel (1)
Of course, if you take away the tub-thumping 4th inning, the Hokies still walked away with a 10-4 victory. The opponent hasn’t been determined as of this writing. The game between Gonzaga and Columbia will determine who shows up on the line for the Blacksburg Regional Championship. The Hokies are already there for having won their first two games, and their opponent will have to win their second game of the day.
There are two minds on this one. They haven’t faced the Zags and no team who is selected for the final 64 is a chump pushover program. That’ll be tough enough. But facing Columbia, again, might be a serious inducement for some New York style vengeance.
In the meantime, just digest the box score for the Hokies and wonder if there is some more left in the tank.
Hokies Box Score for Game 2 of the Regional against Columbia
See you later for the wrap of the third game.