Hokies Baseball Starts Hot, Pulls Away Late To Down Notre Dame

Brady Kirtner and the Hokies got off to a hot start against Notre Dame and were able to close out the game late. (Virginia Tech athletics)

In a game chock full of runs, the Hokies started hot and pulled away late from Notre Dame for a 10-5 win on a rainy Saturday night at English Field.

After nearly squandering a 6-0 lead, Virginia Tech (10-3, 2-0 ACC) put up a four-spot in the bottom of the eighth inning to tighten its grip on their fourth series win in as many weekends in 2024.

“You couldn’t really draw it up a whole lot better than that,” Tech head coach John Szefc told reporters after the game. “We’ve got to fix some things in the bullpen. But that’s the way these games are, these ACC games. You can have good players — they’ve got good players, we’ve got good players, and it can go either way.”

For the second game in a row, Tech’s starter was borderline infallible. After Brett Renfrow’s excellent outing on Friday, Wyatt Parliament tossed 5 ⅓ innings of two-run ball, yielding just three hits and a walk while following his predecessor’s suit by striking out a career-high 10 Fighting Irish (9-4, 0-2) batters.

Behind the early excellence of Renfrow and Parliament, the Hokies are a perfect 8-0 on Fridays and Saturdays in 2024. 

“We’ve been great at setting the tone on Fridays and Saturdays, but it takes more than us,” Parliament said. “It’s a big team effort. And today, [there were] a couple of times where the game hung in the balance, but our team kept going. So I like our odds.”

The strong start from the Rutgers transfer was backed up by six runs from Tech’s offense in four of the first five innings, highlighted by a pair of solo home runs from David McCann and Carson DeMartini.

Wyatt Parliament was terrific for the Hokies on Saturday night. (Virginia Tech athletics)

But after Parliament was pulled, Notre Dame slowly clawed itself back into the game. A rally in the top of the sixth culminated with a two-strike, two-out, two-run double from Brady Gumpf off David Shoemaker. 

An inning later, David Glancy launched a two-run home run 431 feet to left field off Shoemaker — another big two-out swing for the Irish. The longball hurt the Hokies again in the eighth, where Simon Baumgardt led things off with a solo homer against Jacob Stretch to cut the lead to just one run.

That’s when Brady Kirtner entered the game for Tech and delivered his best outing of the young season thus far. Despite surrendering a double to the first batter he faced, the junior righty retired three Notre Dame hitters in a row, striking out the last two and stranding the tying run in scoring position. 

“If we’re gonna be good, we need Kirtner to be good,” Szefc said. “If we’re gonna be an elite-level, deep into the postseason kind of team, we have to be able to lean on him. And we did.”

When the inning flipped, the Hokies plated four massive insurance runs, including two on back-to-back home runs from McCann and Gehrig Ebel before two consecutive wild pitches allowed another pair of runners to score.

“We called it before the game that we were gonna go back-to-back,” McCann said. “We saw that we were one after another in the lineup. So that was pretty cool.”

McCann — who has been the team’s designated hitter in both games of this series — led the team with three RBI and his two homers, the first of which traveled an incredible 463 feet and cleared the batter’s eye in center field. With Garrett Michel out for the season, Sam Tackett moving to first base and Eddie Micheletti holding down right field, Tech might have its new full-time DH in the rookie catcher.

David McCann gave the Hokies a big lift on Saturday against the Irish. (Virginia Tech athletics)

“He’s got just electric bat speed,” Szefc said. “We know the guy can hit, it’s just a matter of him getting an opportunity. Maybe Michel’s injury created the opportunity, I don’t know. That’s what you would think. He’s taken advantage of it and given us some really big swings.”

The Hokies also received two hits from each of Christian Martin (2-for-4), Carson DeMartini (2-for-3, two walks, two RBI), Ben Watson (2-for-4) and Ebel (2-for-4, RBI) with Martin and Watson extending their hitting streaks to nine games.

With a sudden five-run lead, Kirtner came back out to pitch the ninth inning, where he gave up a leadoff single but rebounded with a trio of groundouts to notch his first save of the season and secure the victory. 

Tech will go for its second sweep of the season at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday on ACC Network Extra. Griffin Stieg (1-1, 3.55 ERA in 12 ⅔ innings) will get the ball, coming off back-to-back career-best outings.

“We’ve just got to conquer Sundays,” Szefc said. “We’ll have to turn around and put it behind us and move on and try to get a sweep here this weekend. It’ll really help us down the road. 3-0 is very different from 2-1 in this league.”

Box Score: Virginia Tech 10, Notre Dame 5