Cannizzaro’s Career Day Paces Hokies In Series-Clinching Win At Charlotte

Chris Cannizzaro’s career day led the Hokies past Charlotte on Saturday. (Virginia Tech athletics)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Hokies utilized the same formula they did on Friday to secure a season-opening series victory over Charlotte on Saturday.

Virginia Tech (2-0) once again posted big numbers offensively and benefitted from terrific pitching to down Charlotte (0-2) 10-5. 

“We got a lot of contributions from a lot of guys,” Tech head coach John Szefc said after the game. “It’s hard winning a series on the road. … It’s hard playing away no matter what sport you’re talking about. We did win the game by five runs, so it was close, but it wasn’t.”

Coming off an 0-for-4 effort on Opening Day, left fielder Chris Cannizzaro had a career outing on Saturday, going 4-for-4 with a walk and five RBI, all of which came on two home runs in the first five innings. 

“This is my sixth year, which is crazy,” Cannizzaro said. “Sixth Opening Day and I still get a lot of jitters. So I think I was just swinging at everything, maybe a little bit too much early in counts, and I shouldn’t have. So today, I just tried to swing at the right ones in the zone, and that helped me out. … [It felt] a lot better than it did yesterday, that’s for sure.”

Tech’s offense got off to a hot start as the first of Cannizzaro’s homers came in his first plate appearance: a three-run wall scraper over the short porch in right to make it 3-0 in just three batters. Four innings later, he left the yard again with a 412-foot two-run blast to straightaway center to make it 5-0.

It was the first multi-homer game for Cannizzaro since he hit for the cycle against Bryant on Feb. 26, 2023, and his five RBI marked a career-high.

In his second year with the program, the former Bucknell standout has found a new role in mentoring some of the young faces in Tech’s lineup.

“It’s been really easy for me,” Cannizzaro said. “We brought in some really, really good guys. We talk about it all the time, there’s a special environment in the dugout this year. Literally, however many guys it is, [we’re] best friends. They’re really good players as it is, so you don’t really need to coach them up or anything, and they’re easy to talk to. So it was an easy transition for them [and] for us, and it’s rolling right now.”

Wyatt Parliament was huge for the Hokies on Saturday in his first start. (Virginia Tech athletics)

For the second consecutive game, Tech had a newcomer provide a very solid start as Wyatt Parliament tossed four no-hit innings, issuing just two walks while striking out four batters on just 55 pitches, with 31 being for strikes.

“Coaches have been preaching to just set the tone early and put some zeros up on the board and then let our offense work,” Parliament said. “That’s just what my goal was… attacking hitters and getting ahead, letting yourself play and just trusting yourself. That’s how you get good and quick outs.”

Through two games, the Hokies’ arms have given up just six hits and four earned runs, all while issuing only 10 walks. Seven of the nine pitchers to appear for Tech are in their first year with the program, but that hasn’t stopped anyone from coming together for steadfast outings.

“Those guys work hard to be prepared to go out and have success,” Szefc said. “It doesn’t surprise me that they’ve had it, because number one, they’re good enough, number two, they prepare to have it. And our staff has really prepared them well, I think. We feel good about it.”

Tech gave up its first runs of the season in the bottom of the fifth inning as Brady Kirtner relieved Parliament but had some trouble with his control. The first two batters he faced made loud contact with a double and a sac fly — that run was charged to Parliament — before a wild pitch and a throwing error on shortstop Clay Grady allowed another 49er to come home.

Kirtner retired the next four batters he faced to keep Charlotte at bay. Chapman transfer Grant Manning came in for the seventh inning and struggled a bit, loading the bases and allowing a runner to score on a wild pitch. That’s when the Hokies turned to Matthew Siverling, who gave up a sac fly but got out of the jam relatively unscathed. 

The Hokies received some insurance on a 369-foot solo home run from catcher Gehrig Ebel to lead off the seventh inning and a two-run single from right fielder Sam Tackett in the ninth.

“Our offense, we’re all gas, no brakes,” Cannizzaro said. “… We’re gonna go out there and try to score no matter what.”

Siverling — who gave up a solo home run in the eighth inning to make it 10-5 — and Frostburg State transfer Jacob Stretch handled the remainder of the ballgame, securing an opening series victory for the Hokies.

Matthew Siverling was solid for the Hokies out of the bullpen in Charlotte. (Virginia Tech athletics)

“You try to get as many guys experience as you can, [especially] in leverage situations,” Szefc said. “Those are tough situations that those guys all pitched in. For Stretch, it wasn’t a save situation, but it might as well have been. … [Siverling] is two years off of the surgery and he just gets better and better as he goes. He pitched really quality innings for us today.”

The Hokies will go for the sweep on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET (ESPN+) with sophomore right-hander Griffin Stieg starting on the bump.

“Stieg is one of our best players, one of our best arms. … We have good players, and as [long as] they can relax and slow it down and operate, eventually over nine innings you’re usually gonna have success. That’s what’s happened in the last two days.”

Box Score: Virginia Tech 10, Charlotte 5 

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