Unfortunate Timing and Wild Weather
The series against UVA usually gets played later in the season to honor the tradition of the Commonwealth Clash rivalry between the programs. There must have been some sort of odd scheduling bungle up, because the normal Hokie vs. Hoo contest is played in hot weather and when more is on the line for both teams. The games this weekend are less about dealing with the heat and more about dealing with the wind and rain.
The Hokies are pretty young and even though there are some experienced players in the lineup, the pitching is definitely a mixed bag of very new and single season experienced players. The mixture isn’t bad, just in serious need of consistency and balance.
Game 1 - March 31 - Hokies 5, Wahoos 9
No one in Hokie Nation is going to admit that they even paid a ton of attention to the contest in the drizzle and deluge of Friday night. Not because of the rain, but because of the slight inconvenience of the women’s basketball team playing their semi-final game against LSU. The added negative was the 8:32 rain delayed start left the game looking like a west coast start. By that time the rain had slowed to a mountain drizzle, but it was still not ideal for baseball. It certainly didn’t do the Hokies’ bats much good in the first 2/3rds of the game.
Hokies vs. Hoos - Game 1 - March 31
The Hokies had some serious issues with their starting pitching. Drue Hackenberg was tagged hard in the first two innings, giving up a total of 6 in the first two frames, and then two more in the 4th. Coach Szefc kept him out there, probably for assorted reasons, but keeping the bull pen use down is a necessity of late.
The biggest part of the problem for the game was that the Hokie hammer turned into one of those foam hammers the fans carry around the stands of late. The Hokies couldn’t hit anything, the thought was a slow pitch softball would have been a challenge, but the Hoo ace pitcher was on the mound and much of the troubles were just due to his quality effort. Brian Edgington (5-0) fanned 8 Hokies and only gave up 4 scattered hits in 6 innings of work. That’s difficult to beat when your offense is dialed in for a game, it’s impossible if you’re struggling.
The Hokies did finally kill the skunk in the bottom of the 6th when Catcher Brody Donay reached on an error, but that pushed Carson DeMartini across the plate. Just breaking the ice was a good thing because Donay came back and blasted a three run homer in the bottom of the 8th to make the game interesting at 9-5. It was a bit of a momentum grabbing recovery for Game 2. Tech was realizing that it could hang with UVA and needed to prove something for Saturday evening.
Game 2 - April 1 - Hokies 12, Wahoos 10
Saturday evening at 6:30pm, we showed up in the press box for the first time since we’ve been covering baseball at Tech. So, with a photo credential and a station in the PB, I set up my computer and checked down my camera for game coverage.
The Hoos looked all bright and spiffy in their blue jerseys and white pants. The Hokies were wearing my favorite throwback whites with the TV - VT and the maroon stirrups with burnt orange stripes.
The teams were just completing warmups and it was getting crowded. Friday night’s game had a nice total attendance of 1320 or so, but the weather and basketball held that down a bit. Saturday night, in a 30-40 mile per hour gusting wind, but few clouds, the Hokies turned out in force. There were a fair number of Hoos in the stands behind the 1st base dugout and going over there to take pictures seemed a bit inverted on the cheering and taunting side of things. The stadium was pretty packed (2202 listed in the attendance stats), and the concession lines were rolling. It was baseball night in Blacksburg, and perhaps we are going to see more of this as the weather gets hot and baseball is the only evening sport.
The Hokies started the game with some mo from Friday, but UVA is #5 for a reason, and they managed to tag Green early for a run, but he managed to get control and force the Hoos to take the field with only one run scored. The Cavaliers might have been thinking that they had this series in the bag, just get the ball up into the gusting wind and it’d go on flying out. That might have been true to a point, but that point was largely an equal opportunity distance booster. The Hokies took advantage just a bit more than the Hoos for this one.
Hokies vs. Hoos - Game 2
Another Football Score, This Time the Hokies Lead at the End
Hokies and Hoos Scoring Summary
|UVA||1st||K. Teel singled to right field- RBI (2-2 FBBF); E O'Donnell scored.||1||0|
|VT||1st||J. Hurley homered to center field- 2 RBI (0-0); C. Grady scored.||1||2|
|VT||1st||B. Donay singled to left center- RBI (0-2 SF); C. DeMartini scored.||1||3|
|VT||2nd||C. Grady singled to center field- RBI (1-1 KB); C. Jones advanced to second; C. Sparber scored.||1||4|
|VT||2nd||J. Hurley doubled down the lf line- RBI (0-1 F); C. Grady advanced to third; C. Jones scored.||1||5|
|VT||2nd||B. Donay grounded out to 3b- RBI (1-2 BFK); C. DeMartini advanced to second; J. Hurley advanced to third; C. Grady scored.||1||6|
|UVA||3rd||J. Gelof grounded into double play ss to 1b (2-2 BSKBF); E. O'Donnell out on the play; G. O'Ferrall advanced to third; H. Didawick scored.||2||6|
|UVA||3rd||K. Teel homered to left center- 2 RBI (0-1 F); G. O'Ferrall scored.||4||6|
|VT||3rd||C. Jones singled up the middle- RBI (0-2 FF); C. Sparber scored.||4||7|
|VT||3rd||J. Hurley singled up the middle- RBI (1-1 BF); C. Jones scored.||4||8|
|VT||3rd||C. DeMartini advanced to second on the error; J. Hurley scored on a throwing error by C- unearned.||4||9|
|VT||4th||G. Michel homered to left field- RBI (0-0).||4||10|
|VT||4th||J. Hurley singled up the middle- RBI (0-1 F); C. Grady advanced to second; C. Jones scored.||4||11|
|UVA||5th||J. Gelof homered down the lf line- 2 RBI (1-0 B); E. O'Donnell scored||6||11|
|VT||5th||G. Michel doubled to left center- RBI (2-1 BKB); C. Martin scored.||6||12|
|UVA||9th||E. O'Donnell doubled down the lf line- RBI (1-1 KB); G. O'Ferrall advanced to third; H. Didawick scored.||7||12|
|UVA||9th||J. Gelof doubled to left center- 2 RBI (1-2 BFS); E. O'Donnell scored; G. O'Ferrall scored.||9||12|
|UVA||9th||E. Anderson grounded out to 3b- RBI (0-0); J. Gelof scored.||10||12|
The Highlight List is Pretty Big for This One
At the Plate
On the Bags
Caught Stealing: Holzemer, Warren (1)
*From Hokie Sports
The end result was a race to the final out of the top of the 9th and the contest of who could get there first. The Wahoos’ top of the order set the table and frustrated reliever Brady Kirtner who was looking like he’d earn his first save before the 9th started. The Hokies called the bull pen and ran in veteran closer Jonah Hurney who delivered the final critical outs of the top of the 9th to end the game.
Game 3 - April 3 - Hokies 12, Wahoos 7
Sunday in Blacksburg was nearly perfect, if a bit cool. There was no really frustrating wind, just a typical mountain breeze and a modest cloud cover that was blowing away into a mostly clear afternoon for early Spring baseball.
There was more than the usual at stake for this game. The usual was that it’s UVA and that’s enough excuse to want to win, but the word in the box is that it’s been forever that Tech has won a series against the Hoos in Blacksburg, certainly since the new stadium complex has been completed. It didn’t tamp down the excitement because a series win against a ranked ACC team would really help Tech’s chances later in the season as the pressure builds.
The game started with the Cavalier starting lineup doing what it normally does putting immediate pressure on a starting pitcher. Anthony Arguelles was on the bump for the Hokies and the Hoos started off hot and spanked him hard. They singled on the first pitch of the game. But Arguelles managed to get it under control and end the inning after a double scored 2 runs, he induced two fly balls and an earlier fielder’s choice got the team back in the dugout. A three-run real hole is a bunch to get out of, though.
Forutnately, it wasn’t enough of a hole to make much of a momentum difference from Saturday night for the Hokies. The bottom of the 1st rolled around and immediately the birds began working the bases. The Hoos started walking batters and the Hokies immediately began taking advantage of the base runners.
Carson Jones lead off with a six pitch walk, followed by Clay Grady. Then some good fortune and uncharacteristic Hoo fumbly fingers led to a Jack Hurley fielder's choice loading up the bags instead of inducing a double play.
After the foo dust messed with the Wahoo 2nd baseman, Carson DeMartini promptly tripled hard into the left-field corner, which ended up emptying the bases and tying the score at 3 all. Tech wasn’t done with the inning just yet, though. With no outs on the board and DeMartini at third, Catcher Brady Donay grounded out, but DeMartini managed to streak home and notch another run for a 4-3 lead. The inning ended with two fly outs, but the damage seemed to have been done to the Wahoos. Tech was supposed to be buried trying to make up three runs, and instead the Hoos were trying to grab the lead back with a one-run deficit.
The Cavaliers tied the score in the top of the 2nd with a combination of a lead-off single and a double, but Arguelles limited the damage and managed to get the Hokies back on offense. The bottom of the second went pretty much nowhere, and the 3rd started with the Hokies and Hoos tied 4-4. In that inning, Arguelles managed the first 2 outs, but Tech has been having issues this season getting the third out, and the Hoos went back on top with two singles assisted by a wild pitch. At that point, Coach Szefc wasn’t looking to teach endurance lessons, he needed the out to limit the bleeding, and sent for Griffin Stieg to face one batter and Stieg succeeded in getting the final out of the inning.
It was 5-4 Wahoos in the bottom of the 3rd but not for long. Tech evened it up by Brody Donay doubling to right center field, and then after the Wahoo pitcher walked the bases loaded, Donay scored on a sacrifice fly by DH Chris Cannizzaro.
The one run walk through the innings kept up its grind until the bottom of the 6th inning. The Cavaliers were up a run 5-6 and there just was nothing significant going on for between the top of the 4th and when the Hokies came up to bat in the bottom of the 6th.
The Hoos changed pitchers, probably for matchup reasons, but that really didn’t matter, with one down, Carson Jones singled and then stole second. He really needn’t have worried about what bag he was occupying because when Jack Hurley came up the ball went out. The two-run homer caught and passed the Wahoos, and the Hokies never lost the lead again. They would go on to pile runs on in the bottom of the 7th with a Cannizzaro three-run shot to deep center field. (After Saturday’s final innings every insurance run was critical.) Ten to six is tough enough to overcome, but as reliever and game winner Kiernan Higgins began to flag a bit, Coach Szefc was looking to slam the door shut. Who unfortunately gave up a worked run, but eventually ended the top of the 8th inning with only that single run scoring. The Hokies held a nervous three run lead, but there was some help coming in the bottom of the inning. Jack Hurley took the second pitch down the left field line that had a top speed of about 90 and a launch angle of 43degrees. The wind was blowing out from right field to left so there was probably some help there, but it was a pleasant surprise. One batter later, Brody Donay wanted his turn with the Hokie hammer and put the ball over the left field wall to go find Jack Hurley’s. Those 11th and 12th runs were pretty convincing daggers.
Here are the Offensive Highlights for Game 3
At the Plate
Sacrifice Flies: Cannizzaro, Chris (1)
On the Bags
Steals: Jones, Carson (1)
Plonks: Jones, Carson (1)
*From Hokie Sports
The top of the 9th rolled around, and Jonah Hurney was finding some pace, and working the ball in and out but getting strikes, foul balls, and the crowd excited. Hurney induced a fly out, then struck out the final two batters to end the game on an emphatic note.
Hokies vs. Cavaliers - Game 3
This was a Big Win in Many Ways
We noted some of them in the opening. This is the first back-to-back series win for the Hokies in something like 20 or more years. I heard 1999 tossed about. It bears repeating that Virginia is a superb baseball team with a really strong and dangerous starting lineup. UVA has solid pitching and aren’t ranked 5th because of their spiffy blue, orange, and white unis. These guys are good. This weekend, the Hokies were better. Now they have to prove it by staying that way.
The Hokies are 17-10 overall, and their conference record is now 4-8. That’s better but needs to improve. Next weekend the Hokies travel to Durham, NC to play Duke. There isn’t a Tuesday or Wednesday game on the Schedule so well see if any rust slows the Hokie offensive momentum down.
Coverage Change Note: Since Basketball is over, will be covering baseball a game at a time with quicker hitters instead of big articles. We’ll photograph the home games that we can get to. It’s only halfway folks. Lots of baseball to follow.