Virginia Tech baseball (8-3) continued its hot streak by defeating Marshall (1-9-1), 10-5 on Tuesday night. The Hokies have now notched seven consecutive wins after starting the season 1-3.
“It’s been a combination of stuff,” said head coach John Szefc regarding the winning streak. “We’ve gotten some really good starting pitching. Our defense has been pretty good for the most part, and it sounds like a cliché, but we’ve gotten some timely hitting.”
In the mid-week action against the Thundering Herd, Tech was bolstered by an eight-run fourth inning. Nick Biddison opened the game with a lead-off home run, the 10th of the sophomore’s young career. Meanwhile, Kevin Madden, Carson Taylor, and Gavin Cross all tallied two hits.
After a slow start offensively to the season, the Hokies have totaled 10 or more runs in three of the past four games.
Tuesday’s triumph capped off a dominant home stand for Virginia Tech. Over the past weekend, the Hokies swept Bryant University.
In game one of the series, the offense exploded for 15 runs on 16 hits en route to a 15-4 victory. Taylor led the charge at the plate, going 4-for-6 with two doubles and four RBIs. Taylor is now batting .378 on the year.
“He’s just a good player,” Szefc said of Taylor. “He’s got a good feel for the strike zone. He’s even much more confident now than he was last year as a freshman. He was kind of thrown into it last year. Now, he’s got a year under his belt, and he played in the Cape a little bit this summer. He’s just more polished mentally.”
“It’s more of a refined approach this year,” Taylor said of his hot start offensively. “Having more of an idea of what I hit well and using that to hit to my strengths better this year.”
Madden also picked up three hits and launched his second home run of the season. Cross and Fritz Genther each added three hits apiece.
Chris Gerard picked up his first win of the season, allowing three runs over 5.0 innings pitched, while striking out six. Henry Weycker, Nathan Starliper, and Peter Sakelarris combined for 4.0 innings of scoreless relief.
On Sunday, Anthony Simonelli fanned eight batters and surrendered just two runs in 6.0 innings of work in the first game of the doubleheader for his second win of the year. Jaison Heard earned his first save of the season after throwing 3.0 scoreless innings of relief. Genther blasted the first home run of his freshman campaign.
After starting the season 0-for-8 at the dish, Genther has come on strong, especially with a 6-for-10 series at the plate versus Bryant. The shortstop is third on the team with a .344 average.
“He’s gotten better and better,” Szefc said. “Just a good player. A guy who solidifies us defensively in the middle. We’ve been able to hit him down in the lineup to protect him a little bit and get him some better pitches to hit. He’s gradually gotten better and better and better. Hopefully he’s going to keep trending up.”
The Hokies completed the sweep in the second game of Sunday’s double header by defeating the Bulldogs, 10-2. Ian Seymour added his third win of the year in three starts. Over 5.1 innings pitched, Seymour struck out nine and gave up just one earned run. The bullpen quartet of Matthew Siverling, Zach Brzykcy, Stephen Restuccio, and Noah Johnson didn’t allow any runs to close out the game in the final 3.2 innings. Biddison walloped a homer in the fifth and collected three RBIs while Gavin Cross picked up three hits and two RBIs. Cross leads the Hokies with a .383 batting average on 18 hits in 11 games.
“He’s this year’s version of what [Carson] Taylor was last year,” Szefc said. “He’s a really polished young hitter. He’s a singles and doubles guy right now, but once he learns how to lift balls, it will turn into probably more than that. Just a really good young hitter.”
Over the course of the current winning streak, Virginia Tech’s bullpen has been a juggernaut. The relievers have combined to allow three runs in 26.1 innings (1.01 ERA) in the past seven games.
“We haven’t had that many options in the past [out of the bullpen],” Szefc said. “Ryan [Fecteau] has done a really good job of developing guys into different roles. We really haven’t had to extend anybody too far yet… We’ve just gotten a lot of good contributions from a number of guys.”
Meanwhile, the starting pitching continues to be filthy. With three starts each now in the books by the weekend starters, here’s how their numbers stack up:
Chris Gerard: 17.1 innings pitched, 1.56 ERA, 2 walks, 23 strikeouts
Anthony Simonelli: 16.0 innings pitched, 2.25 ERA, 8 walks, 21 strikeouts
Ian Seymour: 14.0 innings pitched, 1.26 ERA, 2 walks, 26 strikeouts
Virginia Tech begins its ACC slate this weekend by traveling south to face Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets are 7-4 and came in at No. 29 in the NCBWA poll, but recently got swept by No. 3 Georgia last weekend. It’ll be a homecoming for Taylor, who’s from Duluth, Georgia, just about 30 miles north of Atlanta.
“I’ll have a lot of family and a lot of friends who will come to that one,” Taylor said of the Georgia Tech series. “I can’t wait. It’s some people I haven’t seen in a long time. It will be a lot of fun to get to play in front of everybody. I obviously know a ton of kids on the Georgia Tech team, so it will be fun to see everyone again.
“[Georgia Tech] will be a good measuring stick to see where we’re at. They have some very good arms and a talented team overall.”
Georgia Tech is led by outfielder Michael Guldberg who’s hitting .488 with a .549 on base percentage. First baseman Drew Compton is the biggest power threat in the middle of the order with three home runs and 11 RBIs along with a .333 batting average.
“It’ll be a big challenge for sure,” Szefc said. “Now, you’re into the next stage of the season where you go into conference play, and obviously the ACC being what it is, it’s a high-level league and you’re going to face high-level arms. It’s hard going on the road in our league, but I think our players are a step up from what it used to be.
“Now it’s their turn to hop into the ACC and use the 11 games of preparation we’ve had before it to hopefully be able to take that and run with it.”