For the second consecutive weekend, Virginia Tech baseball (21-16, 6-12 ACC) traveled south to the Tar Heel state and came away with just one win in the three-game conference series. Last weekend it was a trip to Wake Forest, and this weekend the Hokies journeyed to Duke.
On Friday night, the opening game of the series was suspended in the bottom of the fourth inning with Duke leading 1-0. It was disappointing for the Hokies because staff ace Ian Seymour couldn’t return the next day when the game resumed after tossing 48 pitches the day before. In 3.1 innings, Seymour struck out six batters and issued no walks, giving up just the one run.
Tech couldn’t get the offense clicking in the first game, and it was shut out for the second time this season by a score of 4-0. Three Duke pitchers combined for the shutout, and the Hokies were only able to muster four hits, two from Nick Biddison and two from Kevin Madden.
In game two, which immediately followed the conclusion of the first game on Saturday, Virginia Tech played like a team capable of winning a lot of games in the ACC. In the 6-2 triumph, Nic Enright picked up his first win of the season, tossing 5.2 innings with a career-high eight strikeouts. Jaison Heard was outstanding out of the bullpen, allowing no hits in the final 3.1 innings to secure the victory.
The offense was powered by Dalton Harum. Harum’s two-run shot in the fourth inning was his fifth of the season. Jack Owens, Carson Taylor, and Kevin Madden all added two hits each in the win.
In the rubber match of the series, the Hokies fell 9-5 to the Blue Devils. After some early offense from both sides, the game was tied 5-5 after three innings. Duke struck with the knockout blow in the seventh and eighth inning. Kyle Gallagher homered off Jack Dellinger in the seventh to give the Blue Devils the lead. Michael Rothenberg and Kennie Taylor hit dingers off Zach Brzykcy in the eight for critical insurance runs.
The loss was the Hokies’ fifth defeat in six games on Sunday in conference games this year. Three of those losses occurred with the chance for Tech to win the series. That’s the difference right now between a team who is 6-12 in the ACC and 9-9.
Tuesday’s battle with High Point was cancelled, so the Hokies had some extra time to prepare for No. 11 Georgia Tech (25-12, 11-7 ACC) who is coming to town for a weekend tilt. The series is a bit of an anomaly, beginning on Thursday and concluding on Saturday.
The Yellow Jackets are fresh off taking two of three from Boston College last weekend and defeating Auburn on Tuesday. Georgia Tech is led by designated hitter Michael Guldberg and catcher Kyle McCann. Guldberg is hitting a remarkable .406 this season while McCann has hit 14 home runs (seventh in the nation) and 43 RBIs.
First pitch on Thursday is scheduled for 6 p.m. at English Field at Union Park. Follow @TSL__Baseball on Twitter for updates this weekend.
By the Numbers
54 – Number of Nic Enright strikeouts this season. Those 54 strikeouts lead all of the pitchers on the staff over the 41.1 innings he’s pitched this season. The redshirt sophomore came on in long relief and tossed 5.2 innings against Clemson on March 31. Since then, Enright has been instituted into the weekend rotation, starting on Saturday in between lefties Ian Seymour and Chris Gerard. While maintaining a 3.27 ERA, Enright has arguably been the Hokies’ biggest weapon this season, whether it’s been his three starts or 14 other appearances out of the bullpen.
.330 – Batting average for Jack Owens, which leads Virginia Tech. The senior second baseman continues to just pound out base hits. In his first year with the Hokies in 2017, Owens batted .358 for the season before dropping off to .266 last year. This season, Owens has picked up where he left off in 2017. He’s had five multi-hit games in the last seven played. The 5-foot-10, 175-pounder is also just one of two players for Tech to not strikeout more than he walks, with Nick Biddison as the other. Owens leads the team with a .485 on base percentage.
2-6 – Virginia Tech’s record in games tied after the fifth inning. This stat exhibits that the Hokies have not been able to close out ball games that are tight in the late innings. Some of the blame has to fall on the bullpen that has faltered down the stretch. In the last two ACC series alone, the bullpen has given up 15 earned runs in 22 innings (6.14 ERA). The pitching staff’s overall ERA of 3.88 is much improved from the past, but there still needs to be some things shored up in the late innings to turn around the record in these situations.