Hokie Hi Weekend Starts Off with a Rumble and Flash
It didn’t look promising this morning. The rain was heavy in Blacksburg, and the forecast was looking a bit grim. Frankly, we had expected them to call the game and line up a Sunday Doubleheader to make it up, but there was a bit of fortune smiling on the 2:30 start. The original game time was set for 7:00 PM, but the weather guys said that it would be best to complete play before that time. Thunderstorms were expected to roll in and it was obvious that game progress was going to be interrupted at some point.
There were murmurs as to why Coach Szefc chose to start Anthony Arguelles on the bump instead of Griffin Green or Drue Hackenberg. Proof as to why came as Georgia Tech managed to work a run on a lead off fielding error in the top of the 2nd after both teams made some inconsequential first inning rumbles. As the Yellow Jackets were grabbing their gloves to take the field, the alert went out that lightning was detected within the “dangerous range”, and even with a broken cloud deck and no rain, the decision was taken to delay the game. The automatic rule in collegiate baseball is a 30-minute pause for each strike detected within a short period of time. So, the chances that Anthony Arguelles would be back on the bump after the 3:37 (40 minutes) restart would be pretty slim.
Play resumed at 3:37, and the Hokies went on a four run tear. It wasn’t anything huge, it was something good for them, they generated the runs by working singles, moving the guys on base and taking some base running chances by pushing runs across the plate on close throws.
But this had to be the strangest game this season as far as events interrupting the flow of the game. First, the lightning delay causes a freeze up for the Georgia Tech starting pitcher, who was pulled as the Hokies were tearing up the bags. Then the home plate umpire takes a ball to the head and ends up having to be carted off the field for a full checkup. So, there was another delay. All through that, Anthony Arguelles managed to stay loose enough to stay on the bump for the Hokies.
That might have been the story of the game, but eventually the long stretch and hitches wore on him and the top of the 5th began to be a struggle to keep the ball moving in the zone, and GT started making some meaningful contact. After the Jackets scored a run on a single Arguelles was replaced by Henry Weycker with 1 out and runners at the corners. Weycker closed the top of the 5th with the damage limited to a single Jacket run, with a strikeout and a long flyout to center right field.
The Hokies loaded the bases in the bottom of the 5th, and managed to do some nibbling as the Jackets struggled to clear them off the bases and get back to offense.
Hokies ran into some serious pitching issues in the top of the 6th with Weycker walking the leadoff batter and then giving up a single and another walk to load the bases. Coach Szefc called for sidewinder Jacob Exum, but Exum couldn’t get a pitch close to the strike zone with no one out and the bases still loaded. In a rare move Szefc switched pitchers and the call went to Brady Kirtner who promptly cleared two outs with no runs. A pop up to 3rd base was dropped and allowed a run to score, but the disaster was averted, and the Hokies led the end of the 2nd 3rd of the game 9-4 with a shot at the bottom of the sixth to erase something of those 2 Yellow Jacket runs. Kirtner then struck out the side to clear the 7th with a goose egg, His two complete innings also earned him the credit for the win.
And Then the Rain Came...
It had been doing its best to sprinkle and shower here and there between the 2nd and 6th innings, but the luck didn’t hold. Just as the top of the 7th was completed and the stadium sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” the activity on the field was definitely not getting ready for the Hokies to grab the bats and try to make up the runs. An angry storm cell intruded on the Friday
afternoon evening baseball fun, and the last 12 outs of the looming Hokie win.
And Then It was Gone!
This is Blacksburg in the Spring, if you don’t like the weather stick around a few minutes, or an hour and a half in this case, and it will change for you.
And The Yellow Jackets Come in to Make it A Game
Kiernan Higgins relieved Brady Kirtner after the 1 hour and 28-minute 2nd rain delay. He ran into a bit of trouble in the top of the 8th. He had a little problem with early control and walked the leadoff batter. This is never good, and Tech did it twice this game. A single put a runner in scoring position and two on the base. However, the thundering bomb by Jackets center fielder, Jake DeLeo, hit the roof of the equipment shed in Left field to put Virginia Tech on notice that they weren’t smart to sit on their five-run lead. By the time Higgins got control and induced the final outs, the last one with a taken strike, Georgia Tech had put a serious dent in the Hokies’ lead. It was still 9-7 Hokies as they came to bat in the bottom of the 8th but that’s slim pickings in a contest that got way closer than it should have.
During the bottom of the 8th, Jack Hurley did manage to absolutely clobber a ball for a solo home run shot that bounced off the top of the bull pen wall in right field. It came off the bat at 118 mph and a mere 18 1⁄2-degree launch angle. You’d have thought it was an M1 Abrams at home plate. The 10th run for the Hokies helped to slam the door shut.
Kiernan Higgins had none of those 8th inning jitters, he came out throwing gold in the top of the 9th and got a three up three down with a ground out, a strikeout, and then a deep fly ball to right center that ended the long and weather delayed game.
The Hokies managed to get the final out of the 9th as the light faded and the game time piled up to be 3hrs 20 minutes for the game and 2 hours and 7 minutes of delays.
This might go down as the strangest win in quite a while. The Hokies start it up again at 7pm tomorrow. We’ll write it up, but the pictures will have to take a back seat to the big event. The Spring Football Game kicks off at 3:00 and we’ll be on the sidelines.