Virginia Tech baseball wrapped up its first ACC series of the season and two more weekday tilts to move its record to 11-5.
This past weekend, Virginia Tech traveled to Tallahassee to face No. 7 Florida State. In the first game of the series, the Hokies took a 3-1 lead in the second inning, and led all the way until the eighth. In the eighth, the Seminoles notched three runs off closer Zach Brzykcy, all with two outs to tie the game 6-6.
Neither team scored in the ninth and Virginia Tech played its first extra innings game of the season. In the tenth, Reagan Teegarden knocked in a clutch, two-out, two RBI single to give the Hokies an 8-6 lead. However, disaster struck for Virginia Tech in the 10th. Here’s the breakdown.
- Connor Yoder walked the first batter after a clean ninth, then was replaced by Nathan Starliper.
- Starliper faced two lefties and recorded two outs. He was then replaced by Luke Scherzer for the righty vs. righty matchup.
- Scherzer hit a batter and then walked a batter on a questionable 3-2 pitch that was called a ball to load the bases.
- Florida State’s J.C. Flowers hit a deep fly to centerfield. Nick Menken appeared to be tracking it, but couldn’t make the leaping catch at the wall. All three runs scored for the walk-off double.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Hokies to begin ACC play, especially when they were one pitch away from winning the game multiple times.
The great thing about baseball is you can put the game behind you and come back out the next day ready to go. That’s exactly what Virginia Tech did, led by freshman pitcher Chris Gerard. Gerard held the powerful Seminoles’ offense in check the entire game.
The southpaw recorded 7.0 scoreless innings, striking out 10 batters, and only allowing one hit. Gerard didn’t give up his first hit until the first batter of the seventh inning. Luke Horanski went 2-for-4 from the plate with a home run and two RBIs to supply the offense in the 6-0 shutout win.
Later in the week, Gerard was given several honors for his dominating performance. The ACC named Gerard Pitcher of the Week, and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association named Gerard Co-Pitcher of the Week. He now has a 0.43 ERA on the season.
In the rubber match of the series, Virginia Tech was stifled by a collection of four Florida State pitchers. The Hokies only garnered four hits and lost 5-2.
Still, Virginia Tech demonstrated that the potential is there for this team to do some damage in the ACC. The Hokies had every opportunity to win the series on the road against a conference powerhouse. National baseball writer Aaron Fitt called Virginia Tech, “one of the most improved teams in the country.”
The Hokies returned home for back-to-back games against Richmond on Tuesday and Wednesday. In the past, these might have been games ripe for a letdown, but Virginia Tech took care of business, winning 8-6 and 10-1.
In the first game, the Hokies blew a five-run lead, but responded with two go-ahead runs in the eighth on a passed ball and a sacrifice fly. Yoder’s two scoreless innings in the eighth and the ninth earned him his first win of his career.
The next day, Virginia Tech controlled the game from start to finish. Tanner Thomas knocked in four RBIs, going 3-for-5 at the dish. Nick Biddison hit his first career home run, and Ryan Okuda didn’t allow a run in 4.1 innings of relief for the win.
Now, Szefc and Co. will hit the road again for the second ACC series of the season, this time against Pittsburgh. The Panthers are 6-9 on the year and got swept versus North Carolina State last weekend.
First pitch is scheduled for Friday at 3 p.m. Follow along on ACC Network Extra or on Twitter @TSL__Baseball.
NOTE: The RPI rankings came out for the first time this past week on NCAA.com. Virginia Tech’s RPI ranking is currently No. 10, an indication of the tough schedule that the Hokies have faced. That’s definitely something to monitor going forward, as the RPI is one of the main tools that the selection committee uses in baseball.