After a strong start to the weekend series against No. 8 North Carolina, Virginia Tech baseball dropped the final two games on Saturday and Sunday. The Hokies also lost to Liberty for the second time this season during a home game on Tuesday to fall to 16-9.
Virginia Tech opened the series on Friday versus the Tar Heels and looked the part during the 4-1 win, led by sophomore sensation Ian Seymour. Seymour carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning before giving up an infield single with one out in the inning.
The southpaw tossed his first career complete game in the process and improved to 4-0 on the season with a 3.00 earned run average. Seymour surrendered three hits (all in the ninth), walked one, and struck out six batters to shut down North Carolina’s offense.
“From the beginning I had every pitch working,” Seymour said. “The last couple weeks I haven’t really had my slider. I could put it where I wanted.”
For his performance, Seymour was named Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week.
“That’s what you want your Friday night starter to do,” head coach John Szefc said. “He’s really matured well in the last year. He’s been very good.”
Jack Owens opened the scoring in the game with a two-out, two RBI single in the second inning. Luke Horanski provided insurance with a two-run blast in the fifth. It was Horanski’s seventh home run of the season, which leads the team.
Riding off the momentum from the day before, the Hokies jumped out to a 3-0 lead on Saturday, using RBIs from Horanksi, Tanner Thomas, and a solo shot from Nick Biddison.
However, the Tar Heels battled back and scored the next six runs. A late rally in the seventh and the ninth was thwarted by UNC, who escaped with the 7-5 victory.
In the rubber match of the series, UNC used a three-run shot with two outs from Dylan Enwiller to take a 3-0 lead in the second. The Hokies’ offense was stifled the rest of the way by left-hander Will Sandy, only racking up five hits the entire game and losing 5-2 to drop the series.
“We had 24 outs to work with after that [home run],” Szefc said. “We weren’t very competitive offensively at all. Pitchers are going to make bad pitches, which that was… but offensively we were absent pretty much throughout the whole day.”
Virginia Tech is now 0-3 on Sunday in conference play. The Hokies had the chance to win two of those series against ranked opponents in Florida State and UNC, and sweep Pittsburgh, but ultimately fell short. In those three games, the offense has only produced 14 hits and four runs.
“It’s going to take some guys showing up and just performing better,” Szefc said. “We’ve been very stale on Sundays. In this league you have to perform better. We didn’t perform well enough in order to win the series. I don’t know how else to say it. We’re OK. We pitch OK. Sometimes we score runs, sometimes we won’t… It’s just very average.”
During this past weekend, the pitching also fell short in the two shots that the Hokies had to win the series. In those two games, Chris Gerard (Saturday) and Peyton Alford (Sunday) combined to last just 5.2 innings. The Hokies also walked 16 UNC batters over the final two games. It was all a far cry from the standout performance that Seymour exhibited in Game 1.
“Unfortunately, [Seymour] was really the only efficient start we had this weekend by the numbers,” Szefc said. “Normally when you get a good start you have a good chance to win. When you don’t, you don’t. That’s the way baseball is, I don’t care what level. You get a good start and things usually go pretty well. This weekend was an exact replica of that statement.”
On Tuesday, Virginia Tech had a chance to move on from the disappointment over the end of the weekend, but instead lost 6-1 to Liberty. The offense came out flat and only put five hits on the board. Trailing 4-0 in the sixth, the Hokies loaded the bases with no outs, but only scored one run after a double play and ground out to end the inning. It was the only time that Tech threatened the rest of the way. A Luke Horanski homer accounted for the Hokies’ only run.
It’s now the second time that Liberty has beaten the Hokies this season. The Flames are 5-0 against the ACC this year, also beating UVA, UNC, and Wake Forest.
Virginia Tech will immediately be tested again with a series this weekend against Clemson (18-6, 6-3 ACC) from English Field at Union Park. The Tigers are currently ranked No. 15 and won two out of three at Boston College last weekend.
First pitch on Friday is expected at 6 p.m. Follow along on Twitter @TSL__Baseball for updates.