It was a big opening week for the 11th ranked Virginia Tech Hokies. Their series win in Charleston was a bit unsatisfying because of their opening loss to their hosts. The Hokies were quietly being predicted to sweep their opening series. That wasn’t to be, but they did recover quite nicely to take the series 2-1 and come back home to Blacksburg for a mid-Winter opening at Mid-Atlantic Union Park. The Hokies are 5-2 as week three starts.
Hokies vs East Tennessee State University - February 21st
It was a surprisingly Spring like day in late February for the start of the first game against the East Tennessee State Buccaneers. The Tuesday game was supposed to start at 4pm but was pushed up to a 2:00pm start time. The only real issue was going to be the wind, which was gusting, and blowing at a good 10 to 15 mph clip for most of the day. The prevailing winds in the stadium are often blowing out to center field, so if you can get a reasonably hit ball up into the air it often gets a boost once it rises far enough to get past the wind break of the stadium stands. That helped greatly on Tuesday.
The Hokies pitch by committee staff was going to need to put away East Tennessee because that sort of wind benefits everyone, not just the home team.
Virginia Tech vs. ETSU - First Tuesday Game
The Hokies Didn’t Leave Their Bats in the Club House
It’s an interesting box score for Virginia Tech, because home openers can often be close games with the team still feeling its way into a playing personality and skill levels are still a bit rusty and often new, too. The Hokies seem to have managed both an inherited personality from last season and incorporated the new players for 2023 into that energy.
Hokie Box Score for ETSU
The Hokies connected with the ball so many times that the ping of the bats sounded more like an echo from the mountains. It just kept happening. What is pretty evident is that transfer left fielder Chris Canninizzaro has brought a big bat with him, a 3-run homer. Returning infielder (3rd base so far) Carson DeMartini also homered (a grand slam for Carson at that) in the game.
',— Virginia Tech Baseball (@HokiesBaseball) February 27, 2023
What a week it was for @chriscann241, who has placed among the company of @CBNewspaper's .#Hokies ⚾️ pic.twitter.com/96QEoznFxy
Triples: Martin, Christian (1)
Home Runs: Cannizzaro, Chris (1); DeMartini, Carson (1)
Sacrifices: Martin, Christian (1)
Stolen Bases: Bryant, David (1); Eisert, Eddie (2); Martin, Christian (1)
Hit By Pitch: Hurley, Jack (1)
It was a pitch by committee start for the English Field mound crew, but Kiernan Higgins got the credit for the win even with just three innings completed.
Hokies vs Bryant University - February 24th - Game 1
Bryant came to Blacksburg all the way from Rhode Island and didn’t intend on being taken as a patsy for the Hokies to chew up and spit out for its first home series. The Hokies managed to leave their offensive tools in a bag in the back of the storeroom for this one. The Bulldogs managed to start the Hokes’ first home weekend off on a bit of a sour note.
Hokies vs Bryant: Game 1
Griffin Green was left in for 5 innings, and gave up 6 runs, all of them earned. This is his second shaky start and it looks like the pitching staff is going to need to work with him to steady him up a bit. The remainder of the bull pen was relatively clean, though, and that early weakness from last season seems to be a thing of the past.
Hokie Scoring and Base Running
Doubles: DeMartini, Carson (1); Hurley, Jack (1); Martin, Christian (1)
Caught Stealing: Cannizzaro, Chris (1)
Picked Off: Cannizzaro, Chris (1)
Sometimes you just don’t have the stuff to push the needle into the “W” category. The Hokies just had too much ground to make up with the four run Bryant lead and not enough Tech offense to be found. Five runs aren’t horrible if your pitching doesn’t give up nine. It’s baseball so you put that in the box and come back to play another day.
Hokies vs Bryant University - February 24th - Game 2
Saturday was a much better outing. As a matter of fact, it was an actual real non-blowout hard fought baseball game with the Hokies’ pitching staff putting on a clinic. Drue Hackenberg is back, and he took to the mound with a purpose for game 2.
, ,— Virginia Tech Baseball (@HokiesBaseball) February 25, 2023
≫ @HackenbergDrue#Hokies ⚾️ pic.twitter.com/wKpEqszExo
Hack would end up fanning a blistering 10, going 7 full innings and only giving up a single run which was unearned - so his ERA for the game was 0.00! Henry Weycker is back and came in to slam the door with 2 scoreless innings for the save. Henry K’d three to close out the 9th with an inconsequential 2 out single to deal with.
Hokies vs Bryant: Game 2
The Bats Weren’t Huge Thunder, but it Was Enough to Win
Gehrig Ebel and Eddie Eisert provided the long ball entertainment with back-to-back homers.
- - ‼️— Virginia Tech Baseball (@HokiesBaseball) February 25, 2023
≫ @EddieEisert #Hokies ⚾️ pic.twitter.com/oaG3UQDV05
At the Plate
Two Baggers: Bryant, David (1)
Taters: Ebel, Gehrig (1); Eisert, Eddie (1)
On the Bags
Steals: DeMartini, Carson (1); Martin, Christian (1)
Nabbed: DeMartini, Carson (1)
In The Field
Oopsies: Bryant, David (1)
It was a solid baseball win and Hackenberg’s 10 strikeouts set a record for him. The series was tied up, and the Sunday Committee Pitching Day was going to mean something. It sure meant something to Chris Cannizzaro.
Hokies vs Bryant University - February 24th - Game 3
The game wasn’t a blow out because the Bulldogs kept working and threatening until the Hokies found some footing in the batter’s box and making contact again in the sixth and seventh innings.
Hokies vs Bryant: Game 3
The Hokies looked like they were going to light an afterburner and take off with the game in the bottom of the 2nd inning. Bryant had jumped out to a one run lead, and the Hokies came roaring back with a brilliant 7 run inning that went around the order plus one, and featured three home runs, featuring a two run inside the park round trip by Freshman catcher Brody Donay, It also featured the first of two Chris Cannizzaro home runs, and Eisert pumped one over the wall with two outs and Carson DeMartini occupying a bag. But that sort of stopped the Hokies’ scoring anything big until the bottom of the 6th.
In the meantime, Bryant was nibbling away at that lead having scored one run in each inning up until the Hokies’ half of the sixth. It was 9 to 7 for the Hokies, but at the clip the Bulldogs were going, there wasn’t going to be a series win with 9 outs left for Bryant.
The Hokies again batted around, Cannizzaro hit the ball deep, again. With two on, Carson DeMartini singled singled through the right side which allowed Christian Martin (on because of a HBP) and Cannizzaro to score. It wasn’t as big an inning as the 2nd, but it added 4 critical runs that gave the Hokies breathing room. Cannizzaro would hit another tater in the bottom of the 7th, and the last run that Tech scored was an RBI walk with bases loaded. Bryant could only manage a single run to close out the game.
Hokies Box Score for Game 3
The big news in this one was that Chris Cannizzaro not only hit two home runs, he managed to hit the entire cycle plus that extra homer and went 5-6 at the plate. It was a stellar performance and Hokie Nation is happy to have him playing here, this season.
. . .— Virginia Tech Baseball (@HokiesBaseball) February 26, 2023
≫ #Hokies ⚾️ pic.twitter.com/V1o9f7dBKF
It was a solid week and weekend performance, winning four different ways. The pitching will warm up, though if Hackenberg gets warmer he’s going to set of Geiger counters.
Radford comes up Pepper’s Ferry and Prices Fork to play some ball at 1:00 pm. We’ll see what the weather permits. It’s still supposed to be sunny and 62 degrees.
Oh, and the Hokies improved their ranking with D1Baseball to 11.
Whole lot of ACC Baseball in the Top 25 pic.twitter.com/lAVLOhZxUN— ACC Baseball (@ACCBaseball) February 27, 2023