No. 23 Virginia Tech Baseball’s Pitching Bounces Back In 7-1 Win Over Radford

Madden Clement and the pitching staff were very good for Virginia Tech on Wednesday vs. Radford. (Virginia Tech athletics)

After a rather shaky weekend in Atlanta in which Virginia Tech baseball’s pitching struggled tremendously, the No. 23 Hokies’ arms rebounded in a big way in their 7-1 win over Radford on Tuesday night at English Field.

Tech’s (24-10) pitching staff held the Highlanders (10-23) to just four hits while issuing five walks and didn’t allow a run until a leadoff solo home run in the bottom of the ninth, preventing the team’s first shutout victory since Opening Day. It’s now won its last six midweeks this season, including a 14-4 win over its New River Valley rivals; its only loss was on the first Wednesday of the season at James Madison

“It’s a little different facing a non-ACC opponent,” Hokies head coach John Szefc told media after the game. “For us, the big challenge when we get to these games is trying to compete against yourself as opposed to, what I would call a team that doesn’t have good numbers. … You’ve got to kind of force yourself.”

The shutout effort was spearheaded by Madden Clement, who got the ball for his second consecutive midweek start after earning the nod last week against Liberty. Like that contest, the true freshman tossed two innings, but put together a much better performance with just one hit allowed and a pair of strikeouts.

With no shortage of talent, the Butler, Pa., native — whom the coaching staff raved about in the preseason — might just emerge as Tech’s midweek starter moving forward in 2024.

“He could, depending on what the matchup is depending how our weekend goes, as far as who’s available,” Szefc said about Clement potentially being the team’s go-to midweek arm. “I think eventually he should be able to be a weekend-type arm, really. He’s coming along, and sometimes it’s hard for true freshmen to start on the weekends. It’s hard to be a [Brett] Renfrow or a Drue Hackenberg kind of guy. There aren’t too many of those guys around.”

Clement was backed up very well by each arm that the Hokies threw, featuring a quartet of solid innings from Brady Kirtner, David Shoemaker, Matthew Siverling and Wyatt Parliament, who made his first relief appearance of the season after nine Saturday starts.

After failing to get out of the second inning in two of his last three starts, Parliament closed things out to seemingly get some pep back in his step. Though he relinquished the Hokies’ lone run — a solo home run from Radford’s Zack Whitacre on his second pitch — he rebounded with three quick outs, fanning a batter to lock up the win. His fastball topped out at 97 mph, the fastest pitch speed by any Tech pitcher this season.

“Just trying to get him in a good place, that’s all,” Szefc said. “He didn’t throw a whole bunch of pitches on Saturday and he had two days [of rest]. We’re just trying to get him back out there, get him in the zone.”

Perhaps no Tech reliever had a better night than Grant Manning, who threw three innings of one-hit ball with a walk and three strikeouts. With four consecutive outings of at least 1 ⅔ innings while allowing one run or less thanks to a unique combination of four effective pitches and his high arm slot, the 6-foot-6 Chapman transfer has nestled in nicely as one of the Hokies’ key arms out of the bullpen.

“Having a good chance to be able to utilize all those different pitches and be able to keep hitters off balance was a huge aspect of being able to go deep into the ballgame,” Manning said. “When you have those different types of pitches that can keep hitters off balance and not really know what’s able to come, you can work through hitters a lot faster than just being a one- or two-pitch pitcher. So it worked out really well.”

While the Hokies’ didn’t necessarily light up the scoreboard offensively, their bats certainly weren’t asleep. Four members of the lineup recorded multiple hits with Gehrig Ebel and Chris Cannizzaro each recording three knocks.

One of Cannizzaro’s hits was a three-run homer in the fifth inning — the first of two in the frame, with the other coming from Henry Cooke — to help burst the ballgame open. His three hits gave him nine in his last four games. He’s 9-for-16 in that span after not having a multi-hit game since March 29 against Pitt.

“I’ve just tried to go back to my routine,” Cannizzaro said. “I was struggling for a little bit, kind of got away from it, was trying to tweak some things that I maybe shouldn’t have tweaked. But just talking to our coaches, going through the routine that I’ve built over time, that’s worked for me in the past. So just kind of going back to that and focusing on it. Not trying to do too much at the plate, kind of simplifying it a little bit.”

Christian Martin and Ben Watson also poured in 2-for-4 performances to help pace Tech’s offense. On the night, the Hokies batted just 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position, which limited the scoring, but with how well the team was pitching, that almost didn’t seem to matter. 

Tech stays home for a pivotal ACC series against No. 7 Duke (27-10, 11-7 ACC) this weekend in Blacksburg, looking to bounce back from consecutive series losses in league play. The Hokies are deadlocked with the Blue Devils and No. 10 Virginia in a three-way tie for second place in the Coastal Division, making this weekend extra important.

“It’s a really big confidence boost, especially when we’re going to be playing such a good opponent this upcoming weekend,” Manning said. “The last two weekends that we had, the pitching staff wasn’t up to our ideal potential. So it was huge for us to be able to hit the reset button and really be able to come out here and deliver from top to bottom, from starter to closer. There were good things to take away from everyone all around.”

Box Score: No. 23 Virginia Tech 7, Radford 1 

1 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Meh, it’s nice to “get back on track” against a JV Opponent. The proof will be in the pudding this weekend.

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