The Weather Spoiled the Series
Duke is always a really good baseball team. They might not be much better than us when we are good, but the Duke/Tech matchups are always good baseball and there are no guarantees. This year, both teams had to contend with the biggest baseball factor of all, the Spring weather. It seems that Easter weekend was going to start off as a near complete washout for the residents of Durham, North Carolina.
Game 1 (the Friday game) was cancelled due to the downpours in the area. Thus, creating a doubleheader on Sunday, and then Saturday -which the weather doods predicted would be a bit better, wasn’t. So, Game 2 of the series, which became Game 1 was again cancelled. This time the programs decided not to make that one up. I am not exactly sure why, it could have been made up in a mid-week, Durham isn’t at the far side of the moon or something. It is an ACC matchup and Tech had a chance at gaining at least a game in W/L ratio. Maybe someone will figure it out because as was with all pretty evenly matched doubleheaders, Duke and Tech split on Sunday.
I have a confession to make, and a sort of apology. This is going to be a sort of quick hitter on the DH because technology wasn’t keeping up with the need to cover. For whatever reason there were series online streaming problems on Sunday. Add to it, the fact that there were also no “Live Stats” being pushed, the games were limited to listening to Evan Hughes call them. Evan is great and called a tough doubleheader with aplomb, but with no stats tracking, it was difficult to make notes and follow the game fully, at least to cover it for you.
The Hokie Offense Spoiled the excellent pitching start of Game 1 of the DH
Griffin Green took his usual position in the rotation on the bump for Game 1, and aside from a really oddball breakdown in the bottom of the 2nd where Duke scored all of their runs with 2 outs. They loaded the bases with several singles and a ground out scored that first ice breaking run. The second run scored on a wild pitch, and then a single got the final Duke RBI for the inning as Green managed to strike out the final batter. Other than that inning, Green went a respectable 5 and 2/3rds without further runs scoring. He did get into a spot of trouble in the 6th, and Coach Szefc called in Henry Weycker to clean up the problem and finish the game, but there would be no Wins or Saves because the Hokies left their bats in the clubhouse. In fact, a no-hitter bid was spoiled by none other than Jack Hurley in the Hokies’ half of the 6th inning. Tech would hang a run up on the board in that frame, but there was no offensive momentum built up after it crossed.
The Hokie bats went silent, again for the final six outs and Duke snuck a 3-1 win in for the DH opening show. The bats were so silent that there are no real stats to put up for the event.
Game 2 Was Better, and the Outcome was Good: A Win
So, in the second game before heading back to Blacksburg, the Hokies found their bats and a measure of small ball that they were sorely missing in Game 1. It wasn’t one of those overwhelming offensive performances with a football score on the board, but the Hokies managed steady pressure, while Drue Hackenberg put up 8 full, 2 hit, innings giving up only a single run. Hack also fanned 11 Blue Devils in the effort. It was his best start, best game, and best overall performance for the season. Brady Kirtner was given to the opportunity for the Save, and with a 4-run lead, Coach Szefc gave him an opportunity to close the door even after giving up a single, a double, and a run in the bottom of the 9th. Sometimes it’s a good opportunity to see if your relievers have the ability to bear down and grab final outs. This season has been tough on Hokie pitchers with 2 outs on the board. Tech’s been struggling to get the final out of the inning, this year, and as the 2nd half gets underway that ability to flip the frame with a goose egg is becoming critical.
Hokie Scoring Highlights (from Hokie Sports):
At the Plate
Doubles: Jones, Carson (1)
Triples: Jones, Carson (1)
Home Runs: DeMartini, Carson (1)
Sacrifices: Ebel, Gehrig (1)
On the Bases
Caught Stealing: Martin, Christian (1)
Hit by Pitch: Michel, Garrett (1)
It was Figuratively and Literally a Wash Weekend
The thing to learn in this one is that weird decisions might have future consequences. The Hokies needed to win the series and grab a game or two in the ACC standings. This one was a complete push on a weather induced double header that washed out the first and eventual rubber game of the series. It’s a tall order to get a double-header to sweep with evenly matched teams. It would have been good to hear that the programs have signed up to play a single rubber game at some point in the season. This 50/50 split might mean something in May. We’ll have to wait and see, though.
The Hokies come home to face Liberty on Tuesday at 7pm, and then get ready for Georgia Tech for the weekend series. GT is doing a bit better in the ACC, but not as well, overall, as the Hokies so it’s going to be a close series and a good opportunity for the birds to grab a series win, and even a sweep. First, though, the Flames are no push overs and Tech better find the hammers for that one.