Virginia Tech Baseball Drops Fourth Consecutive ACC Series At No. 15 North Carolina

Virginia Tech was better on Saturday at North Carolina, but the production wasn’t enough in the 6-3 loss. (Virginia Tech athletics)

Despite pitching better than it had on Friday, Virginia Tech baseball’s bats stayed rather quiet in its 6-3 loss to No. 15 North Carolina on Saturday at Boshamer Stadium to drop its fourth ACC series in a row.

The Hokies (26-14, 12-11 ACC) were limited to six hits — one of them being a two-run homer from Christian Martin — as they once struggled mightily with situational hitting against the Tar Heels’ (33-10, 17-6) excellent arms. They grounded into four double plays and hit just 4-for-16 with runners aboard, 1-for-6 with RISP and 0-for-8 with two outs despite having six leadoff baserunners.

In the series, Tech is hitting just 11-for-61 (.180) with only six walks while striking out 20 times.

Like Friday, UNC was the beneficiary of a fantastic start, this time coming from southpaw Shea Sprague, who tossed 6 ⅔ innings of one-run ball, giving up just four hits and two walks while striking out six batters. 

His lone moment of fallibility came in the top of the first when he loaded the bases with no outs, but the Hokies were only able to plate a single run on a double-play ball. From that frame onwards, the Elon transfer was practically untouchable, allowing just two Tech hitters to reach safely, each of whom was retired on a double play.

The Hokies also received a solid start from freshman ace Brett Renfrow, who went 5 ⅓ innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out five Carolina batters. He had only allowed two runs to score — coming from a two-run homer in the third inning from Casey Cook — before David Shoemaker took over for him in the bottom of the sixth, giving up two hits and allowing three runs — two of which were charged to Renfrow — on a pair of RBI singles and a perfectly-executed squeeze bunt, which made it a 5-1 ballgame.

That three-run sixth wound up being the difference, largely because the Hokies struggled tremendously in crucial moments — a theme that has become all too familiar in the second half of their ACC schedule. In this series, they’re hitting 4-for-24 (.167) with runners aboard, 1-for-8 (.125) with RISP and 2-for-19 (.105) with two outs. As such, they’ve only taken three at-bats in the series with a runner on third base, all of which came in the top of the first inning on Saturday. 

Still, Tech didn’t go down without a fight. Martin’s two-run shot in the bottom of the eighth to cut the lead to 6-3 highlighted a stretch where it got to UNC’s star reliever Matthew Matthijs, who was knocked out of the ballgame prematurely. That caused the Tar Heels to throw two more valuable bullpen arms in Connor Bovair and Dalton Pence, the latter of which pitched for the second straight day.

In the bottom of the ninth, the Hokies brought the tying run to the plate with just one out after a walk from Carson DeMartini and a well-placed single from Clay Grady, but Pence shut things down with a first-pitch Henry Cooke flyout and a three-pitch David McCann strikeout to lock up the series for Carolina.

The Hokies will try and avoid a sweep with Griffin Stieg (3-2, 4.79 ERA in 47 innings) starting on the mound in the series finale on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on ACC Network Extra.

Box Score: No. 15 North Carolina 6, Virginia Tech 3 

2 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Can’t win against better teams. Earlier wins against lesser teams was misleading. The fat lady is singing.

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