Virginia Tech baseball marched on in ACC play this weekend, losing two of three games at Georgia Tech. The Hokies fell to 3-3 in conference play, and 9-10 overall.
After dropping the first game of the series by a score of 16-9, Virginia Tech came back and defeated Georgia Tech 10-8 in game two. The Hokies mashed 15 hits in the win, and every starter collected at least one hit. Trailing 10-4 in the ninth inning, the Yellow Jackets stormed back for four runs and had the tying run at the plate. Nic Enright shut down any hope of a comeback with back-to-back strikeouts to pick up the save.
“The way the second game ended was actually a good thing,” said Head Coach John Szefc. “Some guys would argue that that wasn’t necessarily the case, but the fact that we got our backs put up against the wall and survived that, that doesn’t happen all the time. I’ve read that book before and it ends a lot differently at times.”
In the win, JD Mundy hit his team-leading fourth home run of the year and ninth in his career. He tallied a multi-RBI game for the fourth time this season already, doing so four times all of last season. Mundy has found a spot in the five-hole of the lineup after coming off the bench earlier in the year.
“He’s really helped the middle of our lineup by giving us run production,” Szefc said. “He’s had some really big hits too, not just home runs. He picks a pretty good time to hit them because all his home runs have come at really crucial times.”
Andrew McDonald picked up the win in the game despite giving up five runs over 4.0 innings. It snapped McDonald’s streak of 15.1 scoreless innings pitched to start the season. The righty from Cincinnati, Ohio leads the Hokies with 10 appearances out of the bullpen. Virginia Tech has won the past seven games he’s made an appearance.
“Basically every time he’s pitched we’ve won,” Szefc said. “I think that says a lot right there. He’s been very dependable. Our guys feel good playing behind him. As we’re trying to stabilize things and get strong at the end of the game, he’s been a very consistent performer for us.”
In the rubber match of the series, Georgia Tech came out of the gate swinging, taking a 10-1 lead after four innings. In the seventh inning, the Hokies piled on five runs and had the tying run at the plate before the Yellow Jackets’ Jared Datoc closed the door in relief. Georgia Tech won 10-6.
“The best part of that for me was that I thought our guys played hard,” Szefc said. “The third game we brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh inning. Usually when you’re down 10-1 on the road, that usually doesn’t happen. I thought that was a big plus for us.
“You kind of come out of there with a sour taste in your mouth with having not won the series, but I thought our guys grew up a lot there. There’s a lot of good stuff that didn’t show up in the box score and there was some poor stuff that did show up in the box score. Numbers wise, we’re at .500 in the league after two weekends. We won the first series and had a chance to win the second series on Sunday.”
This weekend the Hokies will travel north nearly 700 miles to Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts to battle Boston College. Boston College sits with a 7-11 record and a 2-4 mark in the ACC. On Friday night, the Eagles will send starter Jacob Stevens to the bump. In the two Friday night ACC starts this year, Stevens has gone 14.0 innings and only given up three runs while striking out 13 batters. He’ll face Virginia Tech’s Connor Coward.
“It’s a typical Friday type matchup in the ACC,” Szefc said. “Two veteran arms that have performed pretty well. On paper, that’s probably a low scoring game that’s probably going to be determined by a play or two. That’s on paper, so it doesn’t mean it’s going to work out that way.”
Throughout the weekend, Virginia Tech may have to deal with some crummy baseball weather. On Sunday, there will be a high of 36 degrees and a low of 27 degrees in Chestnut Hill. Those are not exactly ideal conditions to play a baseball game in March.
“You just have to deal with it, there’s no other way to say it,” Szefc said. “You hope that you don’t have to play a double header. We’ve had some cold days out here. Coming out to practice on a day like today [Tuesday], that helps to prepare us for that weather.
“We have to get ahead of hitters more. We have to play way better defense than what we did on Sunday. Normally it’s not good for us when we get in high scoring games although we did win that game 10-8. We play better when we’re in a 5-2 type game. We just have to play more dependable defense.”
Note: Virginia Tech’s home game on Wednesday was postponed until April 10. The Hokies next game in front of the home crowd will be next Tuesday, March 27 versus Liberty.