No. 21 Wake Forest Baseball Mows Down No. 11 Virginia Tech In 8-5 Win

Eddie Micheletti hit a grand slam in the third and brought English Field to life, but Virginia Tech didn’t have enough on Friday. (Virginia Tech athletics)

Behind a career-high 15 strikeouts from star pitcher Chase Burns, No. 21 Wake Forest baseball mowed down No. 11 Virginia Tech for an 8-5 win on a frigid Friday night at English Field.

After a rain delay pushed first pitch back 30 minutes, the flamethrowing righty gave up just three hits in his seven innings of work, propelling the Demon Deacons (19-10, 5-8 ACC) to victory. After a third-inning grand slam from Eddie Micheletti, the Hokies (21-6, 10-3) only reached base safely four times in the final six frames and dropped their first Friday game at home this season.

“That’s by far the best team we’ve played this year, it’s not even close,” Tech head coach John Szefc told media after the game. “And with [Burns] on the mound, it’s really not close at all, compared to the rest of the competition that we’ve played this year.”

Burns, the preseason ACC Pitcher of the Year, fanned eight of Tech’s starters, punching out six of them multiple times. With his fastball topping out at 100 mph and his disappearing high-80s slider, the Tennessee transfer struck out 11 of the last 13 batters he faced. It was his sixth 10-plus strikeout game of the season.

“That’s one of the best arms I’ve seen in 30 years,” Szefc said of Burns. “That’s a big leaguer, man. There’s a difference between major leaguers and minor leaguers. That guy’s a major leaguer.”

His only real moment of fallibility came in the bottom of the third, where a walk and a single put two runners on before he could record an out. After Carson DeMartini was intentionally walked to load the bases, Micheletti cranked his electric go-ahead grand slam over the fence in right center field, giving the Hokies a 5-3 lead — his 10th round-tripper of the season. He was also the lone Tech batter to not strike out, walking twice along the way.

“I’ve always prided my game on making sure my walks are higher than my strikeouts,” Micheletti said. “I feel like strikeouts are the biggest killer to an offense. My job is to get up there and try and put the ball in play every time.”

Burns only allowed one more Hokie to reach base safely for the remainder of his outing, allowing Wake’s bats to take over. In the top of the fourth, the Deacs chased Tech starter Brett Renfrow out of the game before teeing off against David Shoemaker, who gave up three runs on three hits and a walk while recording just one out.

“It’s actually hard to lose when you hit a grand slam, but we did it tonight,” Szefc said. “You score four on one swing, and then you give up five in the next inning. That’s not what you’re looking for there.”

Tech’s freshman ace struggled with his control, throwing 49 strikes to 36 balls and setting season-highs with five runs and four walks. He also allowed two home runs, one of which traveled 466 feet to right field. His 3 ⅓ innings of work marked the shortest outing of his young career. 

“We got him hot and then he had to sit down because of the freaking rain,” Szefc said. “That didn’t help. Hopefully it’s a good learning experience for him. When you come out and you’re gonna face a guy like [Burns], you’re gonna have to match what he does. And we didn’t do that.”

Shoemaker took the mound with a 5-3 lead and proceeded to give up three hits, a walk and a sac fly as the Deacs were able to flip the script, grabbing an 8-5 lead; each of those trips on base against the UPenn transfer came on two-strike counts.

“He just wasn’t locating,” Szefc said of Shoemaker. “They had some really good at bats off of him. It was a pretty crucial point in the game and it really hurt us there. But he’s done a good job for us all year. You just have to put it behind you and move on from it and assume that you’re going to be better tomorrow.”

From that point forward, both offenses fell into a lull and no more runs were scored. Jacob Exum and Jacob Stretch delivered great outings out of the bullpen for the Hokies, combining for 4 ⅓ shutout innings with six strikeouts. 

Tech had runners in scoring position late, including bringing the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the eighth with one out, but Ben Watson and Gehrig Ebel were unable to capitalize on the opportunity with each of them flying out. On the day, the team went just 2-for-13 with runners aboard and 1-for-9 with RISP.

The Hokies will aim to even the series on Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET on ACC Network Extra as Wyatt Parliament (3-1, 5.59 ERA in 29 innings) looks to bounce back from his rough start against Pitt last week.

“Every time you lose, you’ve got to toughen up,” Micheletti said. “And every time we win, we’ve got to toughen up, too. It’s a long season, it’s a marathon. This is one day. I think our mentality of coming back out here and being tougher than we were today will help us prevail going forward.”

Box Score: No. 21 Wake Forest 8, No. 11 Virginia Tech 5 

1 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. 30 AB
    3 H
    6 BB
    18 K’s ?!?!?!

    considering those numbers, i’m surprised we managed tally 5 runs

    here’s hoping we do better; go Hokies!

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