Facing a win-or-go-home scenario on Saturday night against No. 25 Boston U, No. 23 Virginia Tech put together one of its most complete performances of the season in its 9-0 run-rule victory.
The Hokies (39-19) got a five-hit shutout from freshman Lyndsey Grein, registered nine hits to score nine runs and played very well defensively, including some highlight reel catches that preserved the shutout.
The Hokies’ win against the Terriers sets up another must-win situation on Sunday with a rematch with the regional’s host, No. 12 Georgia (41-13). The Bulldogs defeated Tech 8-3 in Saturday’s winner’s bracket game, slamming four home runs. Should the Hokies defeat Georgia on Sunday at 12 p.m. ET (on the SEC Network), a second game will immediately follow with the winner advancing to the NCAA Super Regionals next weekend.
“Georgia is as good as we thought they’d be,” Tech head coach Pete D’Amour said afterwards. “We hung with them through three innings, but then [had] a tough fourth inning.”
Against the Bulldogs, Emma Ritter gave the Hokies a short-lived 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth by blasting her 13th home run of the season, scoring Cameron Fagan. The home run was Tech’s 98th of the year, setting a new school record. However, Georgia responded with four runs in the bottom of the inning off of Hokies starter Emma Lemley, capped off by Sydney Chambley’s three-run home run, which made the score 5-2.
UGA’s Jayda Kearney added a two-run homer in the fifth, and after D’Amour bought in Molly Jacobson, Sara Mosley’s solo shot gave Georgia its fourth long ball of the day and an 8-2 lead. The only momentum Virginia Tech generated for the rest of the game was an RBI single from Ritter in the sixth, which scored Addy Greene.
Lemley, who was outstanding on Friday against Boston U, surrendered seven runs in 4 ⅔ innings against the Bulldogs despite striking out four. Still, the sophomore was optimistic about the Hokies’ chances after the 8-3 defeat.
“I think my rise was working, but they did a good job of adjusting to it,” Lemley said. “But I was learning for next time because we’ll play them again — twice.”
Her teammates backed up her plans in the elimination game on Saturday night against Boston U. Greene doubled in the Hokies’ first at-bat, driving in Kelsey Brown to give VT a lead it didn’t relinquish.
Tech exploded for five runs in the fourth, beginning with a monster blast off the scoreboard from Ritter.
Ritter has been sizzling during the NCAA tournament: 6-for-9 with two home runs and six RBIs.
“Some days you just see the ball better than others,” Ritter said modestly after the game.
Kylie Aldridge drove in three runs with a double and a sacrifice fly and Brown scored two runs and added two hits in the 9-0 win.
In addition to their offensive contributions, both were involved in defensive highlights as well. Aldridge threw out pinch runner Tyesha Williams on a steal attempt and Brown, along with Bre Peck, made diving catches in the fifth inning to preserve the shutout.
“All of our girls are just outstanding at what they do,” Grein said. “We just have each other’s backs. Our outfielders worked really hard for me today and I hope I can work just as hard for them tomorrow.”
Grein limited the Terriers to five hits over five innings, striking out four and walking just two.
“My go-to [pitch] was my rise,” Grein said. “And my drop was spinning good, so we combined those two and threw a little bit of change in there. … My goal is to just keep getting better and help out my team in any way possible.”
D’Amour didn’t tip his hand on who would start in the circle in Sunday’s win-or-go-home game, but he did offer insight into what he thought it would take to beat the Bulldogs.
“Keep them in the yard, keep them from hitting home runs, make better pitches and keep having good at-bats,” D’Amour said. “It’s kind of the name of what we try to do all year. That’s what I’ve said since the beginning. Make good pitches, string together good at bats, play good defense and we can play against anybody.”
The Hokies faced a similar situation at home in the NCAA Regional in 2022, having to win a Saturday night elimination game — which ended after midnight — and then beat Kentucky twice on Sunday to advance to the NCAA Super Regionals round. They did so with back-to-back wins of 9-2 and 5-4 against the Wildcats.
“We just did what we need to do today to get to tomorrow,” D’Amour. “We’ll take it one game at a time like we always do. We’ll be ready.”
Box Score 1: No. 12 Georgia 8, No. 23 Virginia Tech 3
Box Score 2: No. 23 Virginia Tech 9, No. 25 Boston U 0 (Five innings)
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Best of luck girls. Time to tame the Bulldogs!