No. 11 Virginia Tech Baseball Stays Quiet Against No. 21 Wake Forest, Loses First Series

The offense never really got going for Grant Manning and Virginia Tech on Saturday vs. Wake Forest. (Virginia Tech athletics)

No. 11 Virginia Tech baseball’s offense was quiet again in its second consecutive loss to No. 21 Wake Forest, falling 6-3 on Saturday night and dropping its first series of the season.

The Demon Deacons (20-10, 6-8 ACC) used a three-run second inning and a two-run fourth to jump on top of the Hokies (21-7, 10-4), who recorded just six hits, and let their bullpen do the rest to lock up a low-scoring contest on another frigid evening at English Field.

“If you don’t score you can’t win,” Hokies head coach John Szefc said after the game. “That’s the bottom line. We didn’t score, we didn’t win. … We were bad. Pathetic.”

Tech has accumulated just 10 hits in 63 at bats through two games in the series, striking out 30 times while scoring six runs.

“We haven’t had very good strike zone discipline,” Szefc said. “Just chasing out of the zone, getting ourselves out an awful lot, swinging at poor pitches.”

Similarly to Pitt last Friday, Wake jumped on Hokies starter Wyatt Parliament in the second inning, where a walk and a single set up a three-run homer from Seaver King before the Rutgers transfer could record an out.

“Got punched in the face a little bit there, but definitely can’t shy away from the challenge,” Parliament said. “It’s a long game, so one at bat, one inning, can’t let it get to you.”

Still, Parliament was able to bounce back. After the homer, he retired 11 of 13 batters, recording six strikeouts with just one walk and not allowing any more runs. In that time, the Hokies clawed back by plating a pair in the bottom of the second on an infield single from Sam Tackett and a bases-loaded hit by pitch from Carson DeMartini.

“Thought my stuff was pretty good today,” Parliament said. “Fastball was much better than it was last week. I located the slider much better, except for one pitch that cost me a little bit. But definitely a bounce-back outing.”

After a streak of retiring seven consecutive Deacs, Parliament was pulled for Jeremy Neff with two outs and the bases empty in the fifth inning. Needing to retire one batter to retain a one-run deficit, the Richmond transfer gave up five consecutive baserunners on three hits and two walks, relinquishing a pair of two-out RBI singles to put Tech down 5-2.

“I felt like I was in a groove, but I trust coach’s decision,” Parliament said. “It’s a tough, tough decision to make, pulling anybody. But I trust the coaches fully.”

That cushion allowed Wake starter Josh Hartle to put together a solid outing, striking out eight batters in his 4 ⅔ innings of work. From that point forward, it was another bullpen battle between the two squads. Grant Manning entered in the sixth inning and pitched the rest of the game for the Hokies, only allowing two hits and one run on a solo homer from Nick Kurtz while striking out five batters.

“Grant has been great,” Parliament said. “We have a lot of unity even in adversity. I think everyone that comes out of the bullpen is good. No matter if you’re a starter, a reliever, a closer. Everyone’s just been helping each other. It’s good.”

On the flip side, Wake’s bullpen combined for 4 ⅓ innings of one-run ball, with that lone score coming with two outs in the bottom of the ninth on a balk from Cole Roland. The Deacs’ relievers gave up just two hits and a pair of walks while accumulating four punchouts.

While the Hokies played better than they did on Friday, it still wasn’t good enough to overcome the talent of Wake Forest, who has certainly looked like the preseason No. 1 team in the nation this weekend. Its bats are starting to find a groove — Kurtz finished 3-for-4 with a walk and an RBI on the solo shot — while its starting pitching has made light work of Tech’s hitters.

This series served as the Hokies’ ACC litmus test, and although a game remains, home losses on Friday and Saturday don’t exactly garner a passing grade.

Tech will look to avoid being swept on Sunday in a matinee contest at 1 p.m. ET on ACC Network Extra with Griffin Stieg (3-1, 3.60 ERA in 35 innings) starting on the bump.

“We’ve gotta get a good start from Stieg, and we’ve got to score some runs for the guy,” Szefc said. “You can’t plan to score three runs and win a game in this league, certainly not on a Sunday. So we’ll just have to support him better than what we’ve done the last two days.”

Box Score: No. 21 Wake Forest 6, No. 11 Virginia Tech 3