Virginia Tech (14-17) returned home to defeat Marshall (14-14) in a game filled with offensive fireworks, 11-3. The mid-week tilt was a make up for the game originally postponed on March 19 due to snow.
The Hokies needed a little bit of a boost like they got from the win after dropping the series to their in-state rival over the weekend. Virginia Tech and Virginia split the first two games of a doubleheader in the weekend series before the Cavaliers won the rubber match on Sunday. The Hokies were leading by two runs heading into the last inning until Virginia scored two in the ninth, including Cameron Comer’s walk-off RBI single. Head coach John Szefc was impressed by Virginia Tech’s ability to respond from that loss with the win over Marshall.
“Our guys have been very, very good at bouncing back off of tough days,” Szefc said. “I’ve said that for the past two months. I give them a lot of credit. A lot of teams struggle to bounce back. A lot of teams turn a bad day into seven bad days. These guys have been very mature in that respect. It’s good leadership and being able to separate one game from another, one at bat from another, one inning from another so to speak.”
Tom Stoffel got the Hokies’ offense rolling with three RBI singles in his first three at bats. Tied 3-3, Sam Fragale’s three-run shot in the fifth inning turned the tide of the game. It was Fragale’s second consecutive game hitting a home run, and the 27th homer of his career. He is now third all-time in home runs at Virginia Tech since the Hokies moved to the ACC. The Pittsburgh native passed Michael Seaborn for third on the list with his home run on Sunday against Virginia, and now only trails Tyler Horan (29) and Andrew Rash (42).
“I got with Coach Elbin and talked about evening out my swing a little bit,” Fragale said. “With my shoulder, I’ve been focusing on keeping it down. It keeps me through the zone a little more. That’s what I’ve been doing the past two games and it helped me a lot.
Stevie Mangrum followed Fragale’s dinger with a towering shot, his first home run of the year, over the left center fence for back-to-back homers. Stoffel all but sealed the game with a opposite field grand slam for his career-high seventh RBI of the game.
“I just wanted to get back to my approach and swing at the right pitches and lay off the bad ones,” Stoffel said. “I think my process was pretty good today other than that fourth at bat.”
“It’s a long season,” Szefc said. “Guys get comfortable at different times. You never really know what triggers a guy getting comfortable. Those are the kinds of swings that you need from Fragale and Stoffel, especially driving in 10 of our 11 runs between the two of them. That’s what senior, experienced guys do. They’re supposed to do that and I think they’d tell you the same thing.”
Even with all of the offense that was on display, Szefc was most pleased with the pitching and defense that the Hokies exhibited. Despite giving up three solo home runs, Dylan Hall settled down and fired seven innings for a quality start. He struck out six Marshall batters and picked up his third win on the season.
“They’re very aggressive early in the count,” Szefc said. “He [Hall] threw a lot of off-speed stuff early on and retired 14 of the last 15. The one hit he gave up was a routine ground ball that went against the shift. I think the big story of that game is we didn’t make an error and we didn’t walk a batter. It’s hard to win on the road when you don’t get any freebies. We hit three home runs and they hit three home runs. Usually solo home runs don’t beat you.”
Virginia Tech will travel to Marshall tomorrow to take on the Thundering Herd again before heading east to Blacksburg for a big series against Louisville this weekend. We’ll have coverage all week long on Twitter @TSL__Baseball.