It’s a great time to be a Virginia Tech fan. Hokies baseball pulled off three straight wins beginning on Sunday to improve to 7-0 on the season. It’s the fourth time in program history that Virginia Tech has begun the year with seven straight victories.
Over the course of these last three wins, the Hokies proved they can triumph in a number of different ways.
Winning with the Bats
To open the two-game series on Sunday against UNC-Greensboro, Virginia Tech promptly scored 11 runs in the first two innings. The Hokies ended up pounding out 15 hits to win 12-4 on a gusty day at English Field at Union Park.
Tanner Thomas had a big day at the plate, going 4-for-5 with a home run, a double, and two RBIs. Heading into the game, Thomas had just one hit before his breakout performance.
“It was amazing,” Thomas said. “All I’m trying to do is just hit the ball hard. Obviously, I started off with a slow start, but it was good to be one of the guys for the team today.”
Luke Horanski also collected a home run and five RBIs, while Kerry Carpenter’s bases clearing double essentially put the Spartans away early in the second inning.
“I thought the hit of the game was Carpenter’s three-run double,” head coach John Szefc said. “It kind of blew that thing open at the time.”
It was the second game in a row where Virginia Tech jumped out to a hot start. Last Tuesday against ETSU, the Hokies put up seven runs in the first inning en route to the 9-3 win over the Buccaneers.
With the early lead on Sunday, Ian Seymour settled in and threw 5.0 innings, giving up only one run and striking out three batters. The sophomore is now 2-0 on the season with a 0.90 ERA. Nic Enright finished off the game by retiring all 10 batters he faced to earn the save. Both Horanski and Szefc agreed the the hot starts offensively help calm some of the nerves that might exist for the pitchers.
“It kind of gives our starting pitcher a little bit of a cushion,” Horanski said. “Our starting pitchers, as well as our relievers, have been great this season. It makes them pitch a little bit easier, and when that happens, good things happen.”
“It helps your pitchers,” Szefc said. “It gives them a little bit of room to work where they’re not so tight.”
Winning a Pitcher’s Duel
Virginia Tech followed up the scorching offensive performance with a hard-fought 2-1 win over UNCG on Monday to sweep the two-game series.
Freshman Chris Gerard surrendered one unearned run over 4.1 innings pitched. He was relieved by Jack Dellinger, who struck out five batters and tossed 3.2 scoreless innings. Dellinger has yet to give up a run in 6.2 innings of long relief.
Horanski’s double in the fifth tied the game at one, and the score stayed that way until the seventh inning. Carpenter smashed a go-ahead solo home run to give Virginia Tech the 2-1 lead with two innings to play.
Closer Zach Brzykcy slammed the door in the ninth for his second save of the season. It was a win that was reminiscent of the Hokies 3-2 win over Sam Houston State earlier in the year when Tech was able to muster just four hits, but still win behind solid pitching performances.
Coming from Behind to Win
On Tuesday afternoon, Virginia Tech welcomed New River Valley foe Radford to town for a weekday tilt.
Trailing 7-6 heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Hokies needed some heroics to keep the undefeated season alive. Carpenter struck out swinging to begin the frame, but Nick Owens singled to right field on the first pitch. That set the stage for Horanski to hit a walk-off bomb to right field with two strikes to secure the 8-7 victory.
A walk off 💣to remain perfect!
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) February 27, 2019
The redshirt senior has now hit three home runs on the season after hitting four all of last year.
Horanski’s dinger capped off an afternoon where Virginia Tech mounted a comeback on multiple occasions. The Hokies were trailing 3-0, 5-3, and 7-6 at different points of the game, before rallying to tie the game or go ahead each time.
It’s promising for Virginia Tech to see that it’s not a one-trick pony, but instead it has multiple means of winning a ballgame. That will pay huge dividends down the road, especially in the future when heading into ACC play.
“To keep the momentum rolling we just have to keep the energy up,” Thomas said.
Virginia Tech intends to bring that energy to the weekend when it will face Bryant for a three-game series beginning on Friday. The Bulldogs are 2-4 on the season and are coming off three straight losses at the hands of No. 1 LSU. While the Hokies have proven they can win in a variety of ways, Szefc maintains that his tried and true method of baseball will be the best for the team going forward.
“We have to keep pitching and playing defense,” Szefc said. “That’s really been our thing so far… You get a good start and play defense, you’re going to be in every game. That’s what we’ve done so far.”