Tuesday, home vs. Radford | Hokies (3-2) 6 – Highlanders (2-6) 1
WP: Sean Keselica (1-0) 4 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 4 K, 0 BB, 64 pitches
LP: Austin Ross (0-2) 1.2 IP, 3 H, 5 ER, 0 K, 3 BB, 48 pitches
The Virginia Tech baseball team is above .500 for the first time in 2014 after they beat Radford University 6-1 on Tuesday night.
Junior first baseman Brendon Hayden put a dent in the scoreboard early in the game, hitting a grand slam over the right field wall in the first. He worked back from a 0-2 count against Radford starter Austin Ross, who lasted just 1.2 innings. It was Tech’s first home run of the season.
“He got ahead early, it was on a bad check swing, so I figured if I could just stay in it, fight off a few pitches I’d eventually get my pitch,” Hayden said. “And I got it.”
After the game he said he couldn’t remember what pitch it was, just reacted in the moment and timed it well.
Centerfielder Saige Jenco used his blistering speed to aid the Hokies in the second, stealing second and third after being walked. He scored when the next batter, Tom Stoffel, grounded out to second base. Jenco stole three bases on the night (he added another in the 8th) and was caught for the first time this season in the fourth frame. Clearly active on the base paths, Jenco has stolen six bases in the first five games.
The Hokies added one more run, their sixth, in the sixth inning after Kyle Wernicki, pinch running for Ryan Burns, scored on a Ryan Tufts single to left. With the RBI single being the lone exception, Tufts day wasn’t pretty.
Playing for an injured Matt Dauby, who coach Pat Mason gave the day off to nurse an injured hamstring, Tufts, a freshman made three errors in the first three innings at shortstop. Tufts had difficulty both throwing and fielding, but Mason says he isn’t “overly concerned” with the troubles on the left side of the infield. Dauby made two errors against LSU on Friday night and Ricky Surum, another 3B/SS, made one against Texas Southern on Saturday.
“Ryan, he didn’t have a good game,” Mason said. “But I’m not overly concerned about that. We have a lot of good options. We’ll figure it out. We’re not having tryouts, per say, but those guys are all still competing. They’ve all done a good job leading up to this point. It’ll figure itself out.”
Hayden, who as a junior on a team that started four freshmen and zero seniors considers himself a team leader, said the guys are close to where they need to be and are going to “keep improving.”
Sean Keselica made his first appearance on the mound for the Hokies after not being able to pitch most of last season with an arm injury. After his first two starts of the season were cancelled do to inclement weather, he said he felt good after his 64-pitch, no run performance.
He took advantage of the early lead and admitted he wasn’t as sharp as he wanted to be — Mason said his curveball wasn’t as good as it once was or will be because of the lack of game action — but was satisfied.
Keselica struck out his first and last batter of the night with two in betweeen — he faced 16 overall —and allowed three hits.
For the most part the bullpen — a combination of Luis Collazo, Tanner McIntyre and Sean Kennedy — pitched well. They combined to allow only one run and five hits over five innings.
McIntrye, who earned a loss in the season’s opener, looked a little shaky in his 1.2 innings. He allowed three hits, including a leadoff double and triple in the seventh and eighth innings respectively, and hit a batter. He allowed the only Radford run of the game in the eighth inning.
It was an ugly game, Mason admitted as much afterwards, but refused to allow the youth of the team to serve as an excuse.
“There’s no excuse,” he said. “Youth shouldn’t factor in to fielding routine ground balls.”
With that being said, there were plenty of positives to build on moving towards this weekend’s four-game tournament. The Hokies will host Cincinnati and UMass Lowell this weekend, playing each twice. Tech’s weekend schedule is as follows:
Friday, 4 p.m. vs. Cincinnati – ESPN3
Saturday, 2 p.m. vs. UMass Lowell
Sunday, 11 a.m. vs. UMass Lowell
Sunday, 2 p.m. vs. Cincinnati – ESPN3