Renfrow Shoves, Newcomers Shine, Virginia Tech Shuts Out 49ers On Opening Day

Brett Renfrow shoved for Virginia Tech in its Opening Day win at Charlotte. (Virginia Tech athletics)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Brett Renfrow didn’t feel any pressure being Virginia Tech baseball’s first freshman Opening Day starter since it moved to the ACC in 2005.

Behind a brilliant outing from the rookie and a number of offensive contributions, the Hokies (1-0) opened the 2024 season with a resounding, comprehensive 10-0 victory against Charlotte (0-1) inside Robert and Mariam Hayes Stadium on Friday evening.

“It’s hard to lose when you don’t give up a run, you know what I’m saying?” Tech’s seventh-year head coach John Szefc said.

The Manassas, Va., native tossed five scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and yielding one walk while striking out seven 49ers. He retired the last seven batters he faced and 15 of the 17 hitters he saw on the day.

“Nerves are common, you’ve just got to use them to your advantage,” Renfrow said. “I was just having a lot of fun out there. … It’s important to be always ready and confident. That’s a big thing for me. Just attack the zone, be confident and trust your work you put in throughout the offseason.”

“He’s got a lot of ability,” Szefc said. “It’s not like we just gave it to him just because. There’s some guys that earn spots, but in theory, he’s one of our best players. And you’re talking about a guy that didn’t even pitch in the fall.

“He can do things other people can’t do. And we have a few other guys like that. The bottom line was, if we didn’t start him today, we were going to start him tomorrow. So we just said, ‘To hell with it, we’re gonna start him in the first game and see how it goes.’”

Carson DeMartini and Virginia Tech started the season on a positive note. (Virginia Tech athletics)

The freshman has impressed for weeks and continues to receive tremendous praise from his coaches and teammates alike.

“It reminds me of a 2022 [Drue] Hackenberg,” star third baseman Carson DeMartini said. “That’s high praise, but he earned it today. He’s a hard worker, his stuff is good, and when he trusts it and when he gets after it, it’s as good as it gets.”

While Tech’s starting pitching was dominant, its offense took a short while to wake up. With no hits and just one run — courtesy of a wild pitch by Charlotte starter Miles Langhorne — in the first three innings, 14 Hokies retired in a row.

But the fourth inning saw the bats come to life. Tech recorded its first three hits in consecutive at bats: a single from Elizabethtown (D-III) transfer left fielder Ben Watson, an RBI single from right fielder Sam Tackett and a towering three-run homer to left field by catcher Henry Cooke — the first long ball of his career — to bust the game open at 5-0.

The Hokies tacked on another home run in the fifth inning as DeMartini launched a 105-mph frozen rope down the right field line that snuck over the fence and into the Charlotte bullpen to make it 6-0.

“[The pitcher] just a hanging slider,” DeMartini said. “They were kind of spinning me earlier in the game, so [I] just set up for a two-strike approach. He just hung it and I just put a swing on it.”

With a comfortable cushion, Szefc decided to replace Renfrow with senior lefty David Shoemaker, who was just as dominant. The UPenn transfer threw three shutout, no-hit innings while giving up just one walk.

“He’s gross, man,” Renfrow said. “He’s a good guy to come [in] after you. I mean, he shut it down. It’s great having those guys have your back every single time.”

It took some time to get going, but Eddie Micheletti and Virginia Tech put up 10 runs on Opening Day. (Virginia Tech athletics)

The Hokies tacked on three more runs in the sixth inning with a two-out rally highlighted by an RBI ground-rule double by first baseman Garrett Michel and a two-run triple to left center by designated hitter Eddie Micheletti Jr. — his first hit in a Tech uniform. The George Washington transfer also walked twice.

“We’ve known about these guys for a while now,” DeMartini said. “We’ve seen [the transfers] hit all fall and all spring. We knew they were gonna hit well, so that really wasn’t a surprise for us. That was just kind of what’s expected here in this lineup.”

Tech put the finishing touches on a double-digit victory in the eighth inning thanks to a 108-mph, 382-foot no-doubt solo home run to right field by second baseman Christian Martin. 

“Our guys are gonna slug a lot, they’re gonna hit for a lot of extra bases,” Szefc said. “That’s just a big part of our game.”

Between Renfrow and Shoemaker’s eight-inning effort and a split ninth inning by Ole Miss transfer Jordan Vera and true freshman Madden Clement, all four of Tech’s pitchers on Friday were first-year Hokies.

“We’re gonna play some guys,” Szefc said. “Our Virginia Tech people aren’t going to know exactly who some of these guys are. But they will eventually. They won’t this first weekend, but they’ll know over time.”

The trend will continue on Saturday afternoon as junior right-hander Wyatt Parliament, a transfer from Rutgers, will get the ball for the Hokies against Charlotte’s Cameron Hansen at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN+.

Box Score: Virginia Tech 10, Charlotte 0

9 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Question from a mid 50’s guy who pretty much doesn’t follow baseball, except for VT baseball. What the heck does “Shoves” mean? From the context, I presume it means “Pitched Well”, but when did that term come into common baseball language?

    1. Also a mid 50s guy but follow baseball pretty closely and haven’t heard that one either.

  2. We had a “stretch” of 14 consecutive Ks?? I don’t know that I’ve ever seen nor heard of that!!

    1. It was batters retired, not strikeouts. Editorial error. I changed some words around and mixed that up.

  3. Very good analysis Raza! Szefc gets the most out of his teams. Looks like he has some hot transfers & recruits added to his returning starters.

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