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Virginia Tech Hokies Baseball Sweeps Mid-Week Series with UMass Lowell: 2-0

The Lowell campus of the University of Massachusetts came to Blacksburg and played an unusual two-game series against the Hokies. They went home empty-handed. Hokies sweep and go huge in game 1. GO HOKIES!!!

Carson DeMartini has two really good days - up against Charlotte, here.
John Schneider - SB Nation

Hokies Had Two Games Before the Push

The ACC opener is always a big event for the Hokies, but this time, after having taken the 2022 regular season crown every game will be even more important. Warmup games are critically important. It’s where the team gets live game play and coaches have to take critical decisions because in the grander scheme of things these games actually count.

Mid-week opponents are usually reserved for non-conference games and the “series” are home-and-home stands where they are played weeks apart. This season UMass-Lowell came to Blacksburg for a two-game series. It would be interesting to know why, but probably because the Hokies have Boston College coming for the weekend ACC opener, and that’s a ton of travel for a one game mid-week hitch. (My guess... so don’t quote me.)

Tuesday, the River Hawks might have thought better of showing up at English Field. (Okay, it’s technically English Field at Atlantic Union Bank Park, but that’s just too much.)

Game 1, Tuesday March 7th

The River Hawks lined up on Tuesday with someone familiar with the field conditions and the weird turf installed at English Field. Former Hokie Short Stop Fritz Genther came to visit his old team and see some of his remaining teammates. He transferred two seasons ago for unknown reasons, but his welcome back to Blacksburg might have been a bit rude to go with his trip.

The Hokie bats exploded, and in the windy conditions the ball was flying. The temperature wasn’t horrible, in the mid-50’s, but the wind was a steady 5-8mph and gusting up to the teens. You’d think that would be beneficial to both teams’ offenses but not in this particular game. The Hokies were making big contact and the River Hawks just weren’t generating much in the way of solid “tinks” (the sound the fake bats make... time for wood, NCAA, time for wood).

The Hokies generated 23 hits, and that includes 7 for extras, and four dingers. We’d put up the box score, but editing it is a huge pain, as you can see from the Events Chart, below, there were lots of bench names in the lineup.

At the Dish

Doubles: Jack Hurley (1); Garrett Michel (1); Eddie Eisert (2); Warren Holzemer (1); Henry Cook (1)

Triples: Henry Cook (1)

Home Runs: Clay Grady (1); Jack Hurley (1); Nick Holesa (1); Eddie Eisert (1)

On the Bags

Hit by Pitch: Carson Jones (1); Garrett Michel (1); Gehrig Eibel (1)

UM-L actually managed to jump out on top of the Hokies pitch by committee crew with an early first inning run. That ended when Coach Szefc pulled starting pitcher Nick Finarelli, who was having some strike zone issues. Matthew Siverling came in to close out the inning, and eventually received credit for the win. The main goal of the committee pitch rotation is to get a number of solid innings from relievers. That number seems to be up to the type of reliever being put up on the mound, so you could chalk the move up to a tough start for Nick. He’ll be back. IT Happens...

Hokies Game 1 Pitching

Player Innings Knocks Plates Earned Plates Walks Fans Wild Stuff Plonks
Player Innings Knocks Plates Earned Plates Walks Fans Wild Stuff Plonks
Finarelli, Nick 0.2 1 1 1 3 1 0 0
Siverling, Matthew (W, 1-0) 2.1 2 1 1 1 4 0 1
Dean, Tyler 1.1 4 0 0 0 3 0 0
Weycker, Henry 0.2 0 0 0 0 2 0 0
Exum, Jacob 3 1 0 0 1 1 0 0
Sakellaris, Peter 1 2 2 2 0 1 0 0
Totals 10 4 4 5 12 0 1
Smooth inning swaps for the committee rotation Hokie Sports/Gobbler Country

But the reality is that the Hokie offense made any pitching hitches of little consequence. It also allowed Coach Szefc to really exercise his surprisingly deep bench and get time at the plate and in the field for players who normally don’t get too much time to play in live games. The win contained that record mentioned in the Tweet, but you need to see this replay of Nick Holesa’s tater... Wow, did he clock this one!

Game 2, Tuesday March 8th

The Battle Hawks are a reasonably good baseball team, and taking a drubbing like they did in the first game wasn’t likely to sit well with their hotel stay for the evening. Wednesday, they came back to prove to the Hokies that they weren’t some easy deal cupcake team intended to make the home team feel great. This battle of the birds needed to be a battle, not a plucking.

In Game 2 the Hokies managed a whole lot of activity, and lots of base runners but not a whole lot of matching plate crossing. Each time the Battle Hawk pitching would get in trouble, they’d manage to limit the damage and chase the Hokies out of the dugout and into the field.

They successfully held Tech to limited numbers of runs, and no big charges like they had on Tuesday. Now, with most baseball games one run an inning usually... I repeat, usually... means that you will win the game, but the Hokies only led by 4 runs as the 6th inning started. Three innings is a whole lot of baseball, and UM-L was, as they say in baseball, due.

Maybe it was just a combination of factors, like the Hokies constantly stalling offense, or the unfortunately pitching fade in the 8th inning, but the Battle Hawks managed to load up the bags with low outs in the top of the 8th, and plate three runs before the Hokies sent in Jonah Hurney to clear off the problem and slam the door.

Overall, it was a win, by three runs, but a much more traditional give and take baseball game instead of a football score hanging up in right center.

The Hokies didn’t generate a ton of long ball offense in this game. The Hokies left 9 players stranded on the bags. It was mostly small ball, walks, and burning outs for small numbers of runs. There were only two extra base hits in this one. Chris Cannizzaro connected for a double and Christian Martin ripped off a triple. One thing to note, this one didn’t pile up the subs and pinch hitters. It was starters all the way.

Hokies’ Box Score for Game 2

Position Player Ups Plates Knocks RBI Free Bags Whiffs Stranded
Position Player Ups Plates Knocks RBI Free Bags Whiffs Stranded
SS Bryant, David 4 2 0 0 1 0 0
LF Cannizzaro, Chris 5 3 3 0 0 0 1
3B DeMartini, Carson 4 1 4 2 1 0 0
CF Hurley, Jack 5 0 0 2 0 1 1
1B Michel, Garrett 3 0 1 0 1 1 1
RF Eisert, Eddie 4 0 0 0 0 1 2
DH/RF Jones, Carson 3 0 0 0 1 0 0
C Donay, Brody 2 1 1 1 0 1 0
C #Ebel, Gehrig 1 0 0 0 0 1 1
2B Martin, Christian 3 0 1 1 1 0 3
Totals 34 7 10 6 5 5 9
Battle Hawks made it a game - Hokie starters stayed. Hokie Sports/Gobbler Country

So, we’ll leave you with that good news, and the fact that the baseball team is leaving these wins behind them. Boston College comes to Blacksburg on Friday. The ACC schedule opens tough and will stay that way for the remainder of the season.