Hokies Use Small Ball To Beat Boston U In NCAA Tournament

Kelsey Brown led the Hokies with a 3-for-3 day and a stolen base in their 6-1 victory over Boston U. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

No. 23 Virginia Tech led the nation in home runs this year but did not record one in its opening round game in the NCAA tournament vs. No. 25 Boston on Friday afternoon. However, it didn’t matter as the Hokies registered 13 hits — 12 of them singles — on the way to a 6-1 win over the Terriers.

 “It is important to be able to scratch runs across anyway you can,” Tech head coach Pete D’Amour said. “Jayme [Bailey] hit two balls that on a normal day are out, and [Kelsey] Bennett hit one to the fence. It’s not like we were lacking for power; they just didn’t go out. When those aren’t happening, you have to manufacture runs, and that’s what we did.”  

The Hokies (38-18) started slowly, leaving three runners in scoring position in the first two innings, but found their groove in the third. Kelsey Brown led off the inning with a single — one of three on the day for her — and promptly stole second. Cameron Fagan then scored Brown with a line drive to center field.

After singles by Addy Greene and Bailey, Emma Ritter scored Fagan and Greene with a single to right field to make it 3-0.

“We’re a power hitting team, but we can win games with singles if we need to,” Ritter said in the postgame interview.

The Hokies played classic small ball in the fourth to add another run. Kylie Aldridge singled to lead off the inning, Brown sacrificed her to second and Greene drove her in with a single.

Tech added two more runs in the fifth with RBI singles from Rachel Castine and Brown, pushing the lead to 6-0.

Meanwhile, starting pitcher Emma Lemley shut the Terriers (51-9) down, throwing four perfect innings before Lauren Nett recorded BU’s only hit in the fifth inning. Lemley showed exceptional control all game with 47 of her 68 pitches being strikes. She did not walk anyone and struck out five batters.

“I think just being able to move the ball up and down and have a good amount of control today was working really well,” Lemley said. “I prepared myself to be out there the first inning since we finished up at the ACC tournament. So, I think it was just having good practices this week and going into the first game to set the tone, get out a good win and carry it to the next game.”  

Molly Jacobson pitched the final two innings for the Hokies, surrendering one unearned run due to a VT error.  D’Amour was understandably pleased with the win and with his hurlers.

“Regionals are a grind,” D’Amour said. “I don’t remember ever losing a first game and winning a regional, so you have to win the first game. These are pressure filled games. I just wanted to keep Emma’s pitch count down and I felt Molly could keep the ball in the infield which she did. Six runs was my number, and it kind of worked out.”

Emma Lemley and Molly Jacobson limited the Terriers to just four hits and one run on Friday in Athens. (Virginia Tech sports photography)

Boston University coach Ashley Waters felt that Virginia Tech “beat us with our own game” and gave the Hokies credit for adjusting their game plan.

“They had some deep balls,” Waters said, “but … when you have a really good hitting team, I think they started to shorten up their swings and just do what they needed to do. I think they had some big cuts and obviously some hard-hit balls, but, at the end of the day, any great hitting team is going to find a way. … They are an elite team for a reason.”

The Hokies will now face the host of the Athens Regional, No. 12 Georgia (40-13), in a winner’s bracket game on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET. The Bulldogs no-hit North Carolina Central in the second game on Friday, winning 12-0, and scored all of their runs in the first inning. They also hit two more home runs, bringing their season total to 83.

Duke transfer Shelby Walters started the game in the circle for Georgia but only threw two innings as the Bulldogs used four different pitchers in the no-hitter.

Georgia head coach Tony Baldwin was very complimentary of Virginia Tech in his postgame remarks after the NC Central victory.

“Virginia Tech has a really good team,” Baldwin said. “They have a couple of different looks from the pitching staff. Offensively, you know that they’re going to put hits together. We have to keep them in the yard. We’ve got to keep free bases to a minimum and, at the end of the day, we just have to go compete.”

“That’s what we can control. If we go and we’re the best version of ourselves and we’re letting it rip and competing with energy, connected, doing the things that are important to us, I like our chances against anybody. If you do that and you come up short, then you can tip your hat to those teams. But tomorrow, we’re going to come out and get after it and compete and try and do the things that we’ve done in practice this week and go get after them and see what happens.”  

The winner of the Saturday’s first game will move to Sunday’s final at 12 p.m. ET. The loser will have to play an elimination game at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday against the winner of Boston U/North Carolina Central, which is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET.

Box Score: No. 23 Virginia Tech 6, No. 25 Boston U 1

7 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. It’s been one of those seasons so a good don’t-look-ahead win for VT. Now, let’s get after Georgia! Interesting comments by Lemley, thought before she had been trying too hard and this sounds like someone who has used the break to get focused and under control. That means good things. Also like how Pete’s using his pitchers even now in the playoffs getting everyone experience for the future.

  2. Chip, I noticed that Molly also has gone away from the over-the-head wind-up just as Emma has the last few games. Any details as to how that came about and who decided that they change??

  3. Come on Hokies, let’s put a scare in Georgia today and send them thru the losers bracket. All the pressure is on them. Go Hokies!

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