Hokies Baseball Puts It All Together In Miami Win To Avoid Sweep

Jordan Little and the Hokies closed out the final home series of the year with a win over Miami. (Virginia Tech athletics)

After back-to-back tough losses, the Hokies put together one of their most comprehensive performances of the season in a 13-4 win over Miami on Sunday afternoon at English Field to avoid being swept.

Virginia Tech (32-17, 14-13 ACC) scored in all but two innings — highlighted by a six-spot in the sixth — as every member of the starting lineup recorded a hit. Meanwhile, the pitching staff slammed the door on the Hurricanes (23-27, 10-17) from start to finish, punctuated by a pair of brilliant bullpen outings from Wyatt Parliament and Jordan Little.

“The other two games we played were close games; we just didn’t finish them,” Tech head coach John Szefc told reporters after the game. “We had a bad inning yesterday, we had the lead in game one after we gave up four in the first. It just didn’t happen. We pitched better today. Anytime we get to hold those guys to four runs, it’s good. … When you score 13 runs, you should win.”

The scoring started early for the Hokies, who jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on Carson DeMartini’s 20th home run of the season. The junior from Virginia Beach added another notch to his growing legacy, becoming the first Tech hitter to slug 20 longballs in a season since Kevin Barker did so in 1996.

“It’s just good to be able to hit a home run for the boys,” DeMartini said. “I’m not really worried about any of that stuff. It’s more so just like being in the game and just trying to do my thing.”

The Hurricanes struck back to tie the game at two runs apiece with a Lucas Costello RBI single and a Dorian Gonzalez Jr. sac fly before Ben Watson broke the deadlock with an RBI double in the third inning, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. The Elizabethtown transfer upped his average to .422 with his 3-for-4, two-RBI day, and has now recorded a hit in 42 of his first 49 games at the D-I level.

Those two Miami runs were the only ones relinquished by Tech starter Griffin Stieg in his first game back from a lat injury sustained two weeks ago at North Carolina. He was solid in his three innings of work, allowing three hits and two walks with two strikeouts with his fastball topping out at 95-96 mph.

“I hoped he would go one time through [the lineup],” Szefc said of Stieg. “So he actually went further than what we thought. But I mean, he had as good of a fastball in the first as he’s had the whole year. It’s important to have a guy like that back going into Charlottesville. That’s a really hard place to play. So having him back, that’s a big thing. Quite frankly, I wasn’t sure if he was gonna be able to come back and pitch until Charlottesville. So he kind of exceeded that by a week.”

Brady Kirtner took over in the fourth and struggled, loading the bases by giving up two outs and a walk after recording just one out. With the go-ahead run in scoring position, the Hokies turned to Wyatt Parliament to get them out of the jam. And just as he did on Friday, the Rutgers transfer delivered, swiftly recording the last two outs via sac fly and strikeout.

Unlike Friday, Parliament remained in the game, pitching two more innings in nearly flawless fashion. He retired eight of the nine batters he faced, only giving up a two-out single in the sixth, while striking out five batters — the most he’s punched out since transitioning to a bullpen role.

Parliament’s dominance on the mound allowed the Hokies to break the game open with their offense, scoring nine runs in the middle innings. The fourth and fifth featured some two-out hitting and some help from Miami’s shoddy defense as Sam Tackett legged out an RBI single on the infield in the fourth before first baseman Carlos Perez dropped what would’ve been the third out of the fifth, allowing a run to score. Three pitches later, Henry Cooke drove in another run to bump the lead up to 6-3.

In the sixth, Tech left no doubt. Eddie Eisert led things off with a mammoth home run to right field that cleared the visitor’s bullpen. An error on relief pitcher Ashton Crowther brought home another Hokie while a run scored from third on a passed ball. Another clutch hit from Cooke into the gap in left center scored two more in the six-run frame to make it 12-3.

Overall, the Hokies were better situationally than they’ve been in several weeks. After struggling mightily in clutch spots their previous eight ACC games, they flipped the script, hitting 9-for-21 (.429) with runners on, 6-for-15 (.400) with runners in scoring position and 6-for-14 (.429) with two outs.

“I think we’re just doing the same thing, man,” DeMartini said. “Nothing really changed. I think we just kind of got a little unlucky the past few days and baseball happened to us. But I mean, I think we’ve been playing really well. There’s no need to change anything. We’re just doing our thing.”

With the game well in hand, the ball was given to Preston Crowl, though he instantly struggled, giving up a hard-hit double and hitting a batter. So Tech turned to Jordan Little, who had pitched in each of the previous two games of the series, throwing 17 pitches without recording an out. 

Unlike those two outings, the East Carolina transfer was sensational. He got out of a bases-loaded jam with a 4-6-3 double play and a groundout and went on to toss the final three innings of the game. He retired nine of the 10 batters he faced while allowing no runs or walks with five strikeouts to punctuate the series-salvaging win and record his seventh save of the season.

Despite losing the series and taking a huge hit to their NCAA Tournament hopes, the Hokies aren’t out of things yet. They’re only one game back of second place in the Coastal Division ahead of a difficult, but manageable final week of the season with a home matchup against James Madison before heading to Charlottesville to take on No. 10 Virginia. Their RPI and tournament résumé would be greatly helped should they string together some wins.

“It doesn’t help [to lose the series],” Szefc said. “You’re gonna go into Virginia and do the best you can there. That’s a tricky place to play. … This league, it can be brutal at times. And then you’ll have a day like today. It doesn’t help, but it’s not over yet, either.

“When you go to Virginia, you can throw all the numbers out the window. You’ve got Virginia guys playing against Virginia guys. That’s a bloodbath out there. So you just go there and put your gloves on and get ready to go.”

Virginia Tech turns the page to its final home game of the season on Tuesday against the Dukes (30-20, 15-12 Sun Belt), which won the first matchup this season in walkoff fashion in an 8-7 thriller, before its season finale against the Cavaliers (37-14, 15-12 ACC) next weekend.

“Winning today, we’re above .500 in the league, which is usually the key to getting an NCAA bid in this day and age,” Szefc said. “Everybody needs hope, no matter who they are, I think, regardless of what your situation is. I think this win gives us a bit of hope going into next week.”

Box Score: Virginia Tech 13, Miami 4 

5 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Always hate it when you outscore a team for a series and still lose the series. But, it happens.

      1. Would love to finish regular season on a 5 game winning streak. Must beat the Dukes. Go Hokies!

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