Renfrow Strikes Out 10, Hokies Baseball Cruises Past Notre Dame

Eddie Micheletti’s sixth-inning grand slam propelled the Hokies past Notre Dame. (Jon Fleming)

Riding a sensational start from freshman ace Brett Renfrow and a balanced performance from their offense, the Hokies breezed past Notre Dame 11-3 in their first ACC game of the 2024 season on Friday at English Field.

“A win is a win,” Virginia Tech head coach John Szefc said. “But we had two really outstanding performances there by Renfrow and [Eddie] Micheletti.”

That the Hokies (9-3, 1-0 ACC) did. 

Renfrow set new career-highs, tossing eight innings and striking out 10 Fighting Irish (9-3, 0-1) batters. He retired 16 of the last 17 hitters he faced, yielding just three hits and a walk while allowing two earned runs on the day. The Manassas, Va., native is now 4-0 in his four Friday starts, as is his team. 

“It’s good to set the tone,” Renfrow said. “Every single day, every single weekend, just keep on setting the tone. That’s what our motto is for any day of the week, and it just keeps us rolling.”

The true freshman has 29 strikeouts to just four walks this season, boasting an ERA of 1.88 and a miniscule WHIP of 0.79 in 24 innings.

“He can just do things other people can’t do,” Szefc said. “That’s just the way it is. Some people are like that. We’re just really fortunate to have a guy like that. … If that’s not one of the best young arms in the country, I don’t know what is. Not just his pitch ability, but he’s able to hold his velocity like a big leaguer would going into the late innings. I mean, he threw a pitch in the eighth and it was like 95 [mph]. And I’m like, ‘You’re going to throw your best bullet in the eighth after you’ve already thrown 80 pitches?’ You don’t really see that very often.”

Brett Renfrow was terrific for the Hokies against the Irish over eight innings. (Jon Fleming)

“He’s a horse that we’re gonna ride as far as we can,” Micheletti said. “He is an absolute stud. I can’t say enough about him as a person too, just picking everyone up in the dugout. He has full confidence in us, and we give it back to him. And I think that’s a testament to our team. I think it’s all around, we just give confidence to each other, and we feel more confident doing that. He is an absolute stud, one of a kind. I hope he stays healthy and keeps going. He’s really good.”

On the other hand, Micheletti had his best performance in a Tech uniform, going 3-for-4 with a walk and a sixth-inning grand slam which broke the game wide open for the home team.

“My approach was just the same as it always is: hit a line drive up the middle,” Micheletti said. “I think they have some great pitchers and they missed some spots. I think I just executed very well on where they missed. That’s always the approach here: get your pitch and don’t let them beat you. I think I did a good job today.”

The big swing from the George Washington transfer came in the bottom of the sixth with the Hokies clinging to a 6-3 lead. After the top of the order loaded the bases, Micheletti turned on a fastball, launching it 382 feet to right field.

“Me and [hitting coach Kurt] Elbin talked beforehand; I was just trying to sit on the sliders,” Micheletti said. “[The pitcher] was a big spin guy, so I was sitting slider the whole at bat. When two strikes came along, … he just threw a fastball. I recognized it and I got my hands inside of it. And I’m just happy that I did that to help the team win right there. I think that was probably a big turning point in the game.”

Eight of Tech’s nine starters recorded hits, highlighted by Micheletti’s outing. Christian Martin (3-for-4, walk, two RBI) and Ben Watson (2-for-5, RBI) each extended their hitting streaks to eight games, Carson DeMartini registered two knocks after an 0-for-11 series last week against Stony Brook and Clay Grady had himself a three-hit game at the bottom of the order.

“They just give you consistent at bats,” Szefc said. “They don’t chase a whole lot, a little bit here and there, but they’re also good enough to get good enough hand-eye where they can still put good swings on balls with two strikes. … They make it hard to get themselves out when they’re doing stuff like that.”

Clay Grady and the bottom of the Virginia Tech lineup hit well against Notre Dame. (Jon Fleming)

The Hokies jumped out to a 3-1 lead after the first inning — a frame in which their first four batters all reached base safely — and never looked back, scoring in each of the first four and five of the first six innings. The Irish, meanwhile, kept on finding themselves deeper in the hole with Tech’s lineup raking and its starting pitcher mowing them down frame after frame.

With Renfrow at 96 pitches, Jacob Exum pitched a perfect ninth inning, recording two strikeouts to secure Tech’s victory.

The Hokies go for their fourth consecutive Saturday and series victories at 6 p.m. ET (previously 4 p.m.) on ACC Network Extra with Wyatt Parliament (1-0, 3.86 ERA in 14 innings) making his fourth start of the season.

“When a team loses, they get tougher,” Micheletti said. “And that’s been the theme all year. I think when we win, we’ve got to get tougher too. It’s not going to be easy going forward. We’re in one of the hardest conferences in the nation. If we stay gritty and tough — Elbin and Coach Szefc always preach that. If we stay on top of it every day, we’re gonna be really good this year.”

Box Score: Virginia Tech 11, Notre Dame 3

4 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. This is one of most accomplished sports articles TSL has posted. Raza, you are a terrific writer who weaves succinct observations with a genuinely well-structured story. I confess to being unaware of how long you have sent word to us of your talents and thoughtfulness, so welcome, at least from me!

  2. “…we’re gonna be really good this year.” Well boys, I think you already are! Keep it up!
    GO HOKIES!!!

  3. Raza, your reporting has been excellent…in my humble opinion! You really capture the game, the players & coaches.

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