Tech’s pitching struggles over 5-game stretch

Jacob Emert, SportsWar, on March 13, 2014
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Friday vs. Clemson | Tigers 7 – Hokies 6

WP: Matt Campbell (2-0) 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 SO, 2 BB
LP: Brad Markey (2-2) 8 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 4 ER, 8 SO, 0 BB

The Hokies best chance to win on the weekends for the foreseeable future is going to be on Friday nights, when they have ace Brad Markey on the bump. For that formula to actualize into wins though, they’ll have to play defense and give him run support.

For the first half of Friday night’s affair with the No. 15 Tigers, neither of those things happened and despite tying the game late, the Hokies dropped the series opener 7-6.

Markey allowed a leadoff triple to Clemson’s Tyler Slaton, who scored the game’s first run two batters later on a sacrifice fly to center.

While the Tigers got their first run in the bottom of the first inning, the Hokies weren’t able to get their first hit — a Tom Stoffel single — until the top of the sixth. By that point, Tech’s deficit had grown to four, with three unearned Tigers runs scoring in the bottom of the fifth.

The Hokies were able to put a rally together in the seventh Clemson’s lead to 5-3 on a pair of RBI singles and a RBI groundout. The Tigers answered with a run of their own however, scoring in the bottom of the seventh to grow the lead to three.

Despite trailing for the entire game, the Hokies were able to tie the game in the eigth inning. Alex Perez and Mark Zagunis reached to leadoff the eighth and the Hokies power source so far in 2014, Brendon Hayden, came through in the clutch. Hayden hit his third home run of the season to tie the game at six, but the game didn’t remain tied for long.

Markey allowed a leadoff double in the ninth to Jay Baum before being pulled for lefty Sean Kennedy. Kennedy faced one batter, who sacrificed Baum to third, putting Clemson in prime position. Luke Scherzer came in and struck out pinch-hitter Mike Dunster for the second out of the inning. Baum scored the winning run with 2 outs though, getting under Zagnuis’ tag after an infield grounder.

Saturday vs. Clemson | Tigers 12 – Hokies 2

WP: Michael Crownover (3-1) 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 SO, 1 BB
LP: Kit Scheetz (1-1) 2 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 5 ER, 0 SO, 2 BB

For the second straight day, the Hokies found themselves facing a hefty deficit, but this time there would be no comeback.

The Tigers scored eight runs in the first three innings, five of which were earned. So far in 2014 the Hokies haven’t scored runs in bunches consistently, making solid defense and pitching paramount. It wasn’t there on Saturday. They allowed three errors and scored two runs (a Sean Keselica RBI double in the 4th and an Alex Perez RBI single in the 5th). In the middle of Tech’s two runs, Clemson added four more of their own, all coming from one swing of third baseman Weston Wilson’s bat. Wilson hit a grand slam off of reliever Phil Sciretta after Kit Scheetz threw 62 pitches and allowed eight runs in the first two innings.

The Hokies only mustered six hits all afternoon.

Sunday vs. Clemson | Tigers 11 – Hokies 4

WP: Clate Schmidt (2-2) 4 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 SO, 0 BB
LP: Tanner McIntyre (1-2) 0.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 SO, 0 BB

Tanner McIntyre earned a lot of praise with his clutch effort against Cincinnati earlier in the season.  Things didn’t go so well for him on Sunday against Clemson.  He was tagged for four earned runs and five hits in just one third of an inning against the Tigers.

The Hokies led 4-2 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning, and they hoped to salvage one game of the three-game series.  However, Pat Mason pulled starter Sean Keselica after three innings (2 ER, 5 hits, 3 BB), and McIntyre entered and was immediately shelled.

Clemson went on to add another four runs in the sixth inning as the Hokies were swept in their first ACC series of the season.  Alex Perez and Miguel Ceballos both went 2-for-4 for Tech.

Tuesday vs. Richmond | Hokies 10 – Richmond 10

Tuesday’s game resulted in the rare tie after 10 innings of baseball.  Yet again, the Hokies didn’t pitch well.  Here is a look at their pitching line…

Andrew McDonald: 2 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 SO, 1 BB
Jon Woodcock: 2.1 IP, 0 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 SO, 1 BB
JD Doran: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 SO, 1 BB
Tanner McIntyre: 0.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 SO, 1 BB
Sean Kennedy: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 SO, 0 BB

Luke Scherzer: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 SO, 2 BB

Sean Kennedy was the only Tech pitcher who did not allow a run.

Brendon Hayden went 2-for-4 with a triple and two RBIs to continue his hot hitting for the Hokies.  Unfortunately, the weekend debacle at Clemson and Tuesday’s result meant Tech had a very tired bullpen heading into Wednesday’s matchup with VCU in Blacksburg…

Wednesday vs. VCU | VCU 21 – Hokies 14

WP: Matt Lees (2-1) 1.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 SO, 2 BB
LP: Phil Sciretta (0-1) 1 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 SO, 0 BB
S Thomas Gill (2)

This was more like a football score than a baseball score.  Every pitcher to made an appearance for the Hokies allowed at least two earned runs with the exception of JD Doran, and he only threw one-third of an inning.  Justin Kelly walked three batters and allowed three earned runs without recording a single out.  Kit Scheetz allowed six runs in two-thirds of an inning.  The box score was ugly if you like good pitching.

The Hokies once led this game 9-2, and it was still 9-3 after five innings.  Starter Luis Collazo pitched well, going five innings and allowing three earned runs on seven hits.  However, Tech’s bullpen was a disaster yet again.  They allowed six runs in the sixth inning, four more in the seventh, and eight in the eighth.

Tech was good at the plate, with Brendon Hayden leading the way with two hits (including a double) and two walks.  He had two RBIs, and he currently leads the team with 18 runs batted in.  Sean Keselica, playing left field this time, was 3-for-4 with a walk.  The Hokies totaled 14 runs and 11 hits, but it wasn’t nearly enough.

The 2014 season is still relatively young, but certain trends are appearing. Mainly, the Hokies (6-8-1) are going to struggle this season. They don’t have any experienced pitching save a few arms, and the bats that were supposed to alleviate the pitching problem haven’t showed up yet.


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