Hokies Hammered By No. 18 Virginia, Drop Commonwealth Clash In Charlottesville

Griffin Stieg Virginia Tech
Starting pitcher Griffin Stieg exited the game early with an injury, and Virginia crushed the Hokies bullpen for a 13-3 win in seven innings. (Virginia Tech Athletics)

Virginia Tech was blitzed by No. 18 Virginia in a 13-3 run-rule loss on Friday afternoon at Disharoon Park in Charlottesville to drop the 2024 Commonwealth Clash and Tech’s sixth consecutive ACC series.

After starting pitcher Griffin Stieg exited in the second inning, the Cavaliers (39-14, 17-12 ACC) clocked 14 hits and six home runs off the Hokies (32-19, 14-15) bullpen arms, plating all of their runs from the second through sixth innings and scoring in each frame.

Stieg — who made his first non-finale start of the season to give Tech the best shot to win with the chances of playing a third game looking slim due to heavy rain in the forecast — had retired the first five batters he faced, commanding the zone well with his fastball working exquisitely, topping out at 95-96 mph as 18 of his 26 pitches were thrown for strikes. 

But two pitches into his sixth batter, he appeared to reaggravate the lat injury that he suffered three weeks ago against North Carolina, and after being checked on by his teammates and coaching staff, he exited the ballgame.

Behind the sophomore righty, Tech threw six arms, five of whom allowed at least a run, with four giving up at least two. The bullpen combined to toss 4 ⅓ innings, giving up 13 runs on 14 hits and four walks.

Each member of UVa’s starting lineup checked in with a hit, with five batters registering multiple knocks. Designated hitter Ethan Anderson led the way with a 2-for-4 day, hitting a pair of home runs and driving in six runs.

Tech opened the scoring with three consecutive one-out hits in the top of the first, punctuated by a Gehrig Ebel RBI double into the gap in left center field to make it 1-0, but then quickly went quiet, not recording another knock until the sixth inning. 

After Stieg’s departure, David Shoemaker was first out of the bullpen. Being thrust into a difficult spot, he gave up the game-tying solo home run to Harrison Didawick on his sixth pitch. To lead off the next inning, he gave up back-to-back singles before inducing an RBI groundout.

That’s when Virginia Tech gave the ball to Jacob Exum, who gave up three two-out singles in a row, two of which scored runs to increase UVa’s lead to three.

In the fourth inning, things were still within reach for Tech, but any chance it had quickly vanished as Wyatt Parliament entered the ballgame and allowed each of the five batters he faced to score, giving up a solo homer to Eric Becker, walk, bunt single, two-run home run from Anderson and one last solo shot off the bat of Casey Saucke. In the blink of an eye, the Cavaliers found themselves up 9-1, scoring five runs without making an out in the frame.

That’s where things cooled off for a bit as Brady Kirtner took over on the mound and was able to put away the side without giving up any more runs. But in the bottom of the fifth, Virginia got back to its slugging ways as Anderson cranked a two-out, two-run homer to right field off Jacob Stretch to increase the lead to double digits. 

With the game and the series well out of reach, the Hokies opted to empty the bench, leading to some offense in the top of the sixth. After ending their hitting drought, true freshman Jake Slade knocked a well-placed two-run single down the right field line to cut the lead to eight and lift Tech out of run-rule territory.

The Cavaliers quickly reasserted themselves as Henry Gobout raked a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth to make it 13-3. After the Hokies went down in order in the top of the seventh, the ballgame came to a close in run-rule fashion.

Having dropped its previous five ACC series and finding itself on the wrong side of the bubble, Virginia Tech needed to win this weekend if it wanted to feel comfortable about its NCAA Tournament standing. Losing the first two games by a combined score of 20-6 while scoring just three earned runs isn’t what the Hokies wanted, especially with the odds of playing a getaway game being slim due to approaching weather.

As such, the Hokies likely need to win the ACC Baseball Championship next week in Charlotte if they want to go dancing, which is obviously much easier said than done. 

If UVa and Tech are to play a series finale, it’ll be on Saturday at 5 p.m. ET (previously 3 p.m., moved back due to graduation) on the ACC Network.

 

5 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Don’t get much worse than this. This team absolutely fell apart for the last 5 weeks of the season.

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