Dominant Pitching Helps Virginia Tech Baseball Hold Off Stony Brook

Brett Renfrow paced Virginia Tech in its 6-3 win over Stony Brook Friday. (Virginia Tech athletics)

The combination of aces delivering stellar outings and steady rain falling down meant offense was hard to come by on Friday at English Field for Virginia Tech and Stony Brook.

Brett Renfrow and Eddie Smink were mowing down the opposing lineup for the Hokies and Seawolves, respectively. But one set of bats had just enough spurts to get the job done.

A trio of two-run innings and an emphatic performance from the pitching staff — which didn’t allow an earned run — fueled the Hokies’ gritty 6-3 win over the Seawolves.

“Pitching and defense were great,” Tech head coach John Szefc said. “It’s hard to lose when you pitch and play defense that efficiently.”

Renfrow pitched the third consecutive excellent start of his young career for Tech (7-2), setting a new high in innings pitched with six and tying a career high in strikeouts with seven. The freshman gave up six hits but didn’t yield a walk as 57 of his 70 pitches were thrown for strikes. Szefc said that Renfrow probably could have pitched the seventh inning thanks to his efficiency.

“Every time I go out there, I’m trying to attack the zone,” Renfrow said. “Know your stuff plays and just have confidence with it. … Fastball was up in the zone. They were just swinging under it. Everything felt good.”

Four of the six Stony Brook (3-6) hits came from leadoff hitters, putting Renfrow in some uncomfortable situations that he hadn’t yet faced this season. But he was able to respond well every time; no Seawolf ever advanced past third base with him on the mound.

“Just gotta take it with a grain of salt,” Renfrow said. “I mean, it’s happened. It’s college. I know [we’ve] got hitters behind us. Just gotta have confidence out there and do your thing.”

Tech’s bullpen was solid as David Shoemaker, Brady Kirtner and Jacob Stretch combined for three innings and didn’t give up any earned runs. Like Renfrow, they found themselves in some tough spots but were able to get through it. Stony Brook wound up going 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on base. 

“We were all pounding the zone, and just having confidence with our pitches,” Renfrow said. “And then they weren’t really hitting it. Having those guys behind you is a really good feeling. You come out of the game, and then they come back and help you win it.”

The Hokies were able to strike first in the pitcher’s duel by getting to Smink on his second time through the lineup. Christian Martin and Chris Cannizzaro each smoked RBI doubles to left field in the third inning to put the home team up 2-0. 

“You always want to get and score first and kind of deliver the first punch, so to speak,” Szefc said. “Just makes everybody feel a little better when you’re up 2-0 [rather than] 1-0 early in the game.”

That was Cannizzaro’s team-leading 15th RBI in 2024 — and marked his fourth straight game with an RBI — to highlight his 3-for-4 day. He also ranks first on the team in hits (17), home runs (4) and OPS (1.506). 

“I’m just trying to do what I do every day,” Cannizzaro said. “I have a process, I kind of work through it every single day. I give all the credit to our coaching staff. They give us every chance to succeed. They’re the ones who help us build a routine and follow it every day. So if I keep doing that, I’m going to try to be as successful as I can.”

Virginia Tech got to Smink again in the bottom of the sixth. Each of its first three batters reached safely — Cannizzaro led off with an infield single, Garrett Michel doubled to left and Eddie Micheletti pushed an RBI single through the left side of the infield to make it a three-run game. One pitch later, a sac fly from Sam Tackett made it 4-0.

“We don’t really put too much pressure on ourselves,” Cannizzaro said. “I think we know how good our lineup is top to bottom, one through nine. It’s an unbelievable lineup with guys who can do so many different things.”

Things got tense for Tech quickly, though. In the top of the seventh, Shoemaker was about to get out of a bases-loaded jam with a 5-3 groundout before Carson DeMartini’s throw to first base took Michel off the bag. As he reached out to make the catch and apply the tag, his arm collided with the runner — which allowed two Seawolves to score and left Tech’s first baseman down in immense pain.

Michel spent several minutes on the ground before being helped off by the team’s personal trainer, Kyle Staggers, who held his arm on the walk back to the dugout. Later, Michel walked over to the Weaver Baseball Center with an air cast around his left arm. Gehrig Ebel played the remainder of the game at first base. 

On the mound, Kirtner relieved Shoemaker and was able to get out of his own jam with the bases loaded after walking in a run. 

An inning later, with the lead reduced to one run, 4-3, the Hokies received some much-needed insurance courtesy of a two-out rally. After Cannizzaro led off with a single and Tackett worked a full-count walk, Ben Watson sharply hit the first pitch he saw down the left field line for a two-run double to put Tech up three runs heading into the ninth inning.

“Insurance runs are really big,” Cannizzaro said. “Something we need to do is be able to score late in games and give our pitchers more of a cushion. [Watson is] such a good hitter, [two-strike] or regular counts, it doesn’t matter what the situation is. He’s always gonna get the job done.”

In the top of the ninth, Stretch delivered Tech’s first save of the season — and his first at the Division-I level — to secure the team’s third Friday victory in as many weeks, though this one came much tougher than its predecessors.

“Playing a close game on Fridays is something we’re gonna do a lot this year,” Cannizzaro said. “It’s definitely good for us to get one under our belt so early. Playing in the elements is definitely gonna help us. It’s good to just do it now before conference [play] comes around.”

The Hokies will go for their third consecutive series victory on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET (ACC Network Extra) as Wyatt Parliament (3.12 ERA in 8 ⅔ innings) gets the ball against the Seawolves.

Box Score: Virginia Tech 6, Stony Brook 3 

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