Hokies Baseball Off To Best-Ever ACC Start With Louisville Series Win

Eddie Micheletti and the Hokies are off to their best-ever start in ACC play. (Jon Fleming)

With emphatic wins on Saturday and Sunday, Hokies baseball won its fifth consecutive series and second straight ACC series in its first road trip in conference play at Jim Patterson Stadium in Louisville, Ky., this weekend.

The Virginia Tech (14-4, 5-1 ACC) bats and pitching came to life in the second and third games of the series as it raced past the Cardinals (13-7, 1-2) by a combined score of 20-7 to secure its best six-game start to ACC play in program history and best 18-game start to a season since 2012. 

Things got off to a rocky start as the Hokies lost their first Friday and conference game of the season with Louisville slugging its way to a 9-6 victory, hitting three home runs along the way.

Freshman ace Brett Renfrow struggled for the first time in his young career in his first ACC road start. He pitched a season-low 3 ⅔ innings, giving up six hits and three runs (two earned). The Manassas, Va., native also gave up four walks while striking out just two Cardinals batters — both season-lows — en route to collecting his first loss of the season.

Tech’s offense wasn’t able to pick up the slack as Louisville starter Sebastian Gongorra was sensational. The Cardinals’ ace tossed 6 ⅓ innings of two-run ball, yielding six hits and a walk while striking out eight Hokie hitters.

A pair of Tech homers from Eddie Micheletti and Chris Cannizzaro helped the score look close in the end, but it could have been even tighter than three runs. In the top of the eighth with the score at 6-3, the Hokies loaded the bases with no outs but went down in order, including a pair of strikeouts. In the bottom half of the frame, the Cardinals quickly plated three runs to ice the game.

Saturday is where Tech flipped the script, however. Powered by 18 hits — its most in an ACC game since 2022 — and 10 runs in the middle innings with a pair of Carson DeMartini home runs squeezed in between, the Hokies won 12-6 to bring the series even. It was the first Tech win in the Derby City since 1995 when both programs were in the Metro Conference.

It was a field day for Tech’s lineup — eight players recorded hits, seven had multiple and three had three or more, including four for Henry Cooke. DeMartini left the yard with a two-run shot in two of his first three plate appearances, and Micheletti launched another home run himself.

It helped that the offense was backed up by the pitching. Wyatt Parliament had a solid start, tossing three innings and allowing five hits and three runs with a walk and five strikeouts. He had allowed just two hits and one run entering the top of the fourth but was pulled after surrendering back-to-back home runs and a double.

That’s when Brady Kirtner took the mound and delivered another stellar outing, holding things down for a whopping five innings. The junior righty allowed three runs on six hits and three walks while striking out seven Louisville batters to collect his second win of the year. Despite a tough first inning of work in which he loaded the bases and allowed a two-out, two-run single, he retired 12 of the next 18 batters he faced.

That fourth inning was really the only bad one for Tech, as Louisville was blanked in all but two of its other eight frames. Jacob Stretch, Matthew Siverling and Jordan Little combined to pitch a shutout ninth inning to seal the deal.

Sunday’s rubber match was the Hokies’ most dominant performance of the weekend by far as they crushed the Cardinals 8-1 behind a career start from Griffin Stieg and an incredible three-homer day for DeMartini.

Head coach John Szefc has said in the past that his team had trouble with “conquering Sundays.” With back-to-back emphatic ACC wins to close series, the Hokies have found their formula, which has paid tremendous dividends.

Stieg tossed 7 ⅔ innings of one-run ball, relinquishing just five hits while striking out six batters, including a stretch where he retired 22 of 24 Cardinals. For the second consecutive start, he did not allow a walk.

Meanwhile, DeMartini once again started his day as hot as possible, blasting solo home runs in each of his first three trips to the plate, giving him five in a 24-hour stretch and 12 on the season. He was named the D1Baseball Player of the Week on Monday.

Ben Watson had a day to remember as well, going 3-for-5 with an RBI extending his hitting streak to 14 games.

Micheletti left the park along the way, too, extending his homer streak to an amazing five games. The George Washington transfer ranks right behind DeMartini with nine home runs of his own in 2024 after hitting just five all of last year with the Revolutionaries.

Across the series, the Hokies blasted 10 home runs and accumulated 43 hits.

After an electric weekend from their bats, the Hokies now have a three-way tie atop the RBI leaderboard with DeMartini, Micheletti and Chris Cannizzaro each with 23. Nine hitters have averages over .300, with three being at .400 or higher — Cannizzaro, Watson and Cooke — while eight batters have an OPS over 1.000. 

On the mound, the rotation of Renfrow, Parliament and Stieg continue to boast terrific numbers with a combined ERA of 3.18 and a WHIP of just .99. The trio has combined for 78 strikeouts with only 17 walks across 75 ⅓ innings pitched.

After winning its first five series of the season for the first time in program history, Tech now finds itself as the first and only ACC team to reach the five-win mark thus far in 2024. In the Coastal Division, the Hokies rank second behind Georgia Tech, which swept NC State this weekend in its lone conference series of the season.

As a result of their recent dominance, they jumped into the D1Baseball top 25 rankings on Monday at No. 19.

The Hokies return to English Field for a midweek matchup with East Tennessee State (14-5) on Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET on ACC Network Extra.

8 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Next ACC series are against BC and Pitt, both winnable. That should give our new pitching staff some time to evolve.

  2. A couple of years ago when the Hokies made the Super Regional, I wasn’t sold on them because it was just hitting that carried them. If this team keeps up the solid pitching, they could go pretty far.

    1. I still worry about our midweek pitching, which also comes into play in the postseason.

  3. The color commentator made an interesting observation on the ACC Network game televised on Sunday. He said that no one in our line up is particularly tall but they are all built like college running backs. Hats off to our S&C team.

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