Hokies Baseball Walked Off, Swept By No. 18 Virginia In 13-Inning Marathon

Virginia Tech Disharoon Park
Disharoon Park was not kind to Virginia Tech, as the Hokies were swept by the Hoos. (ACC Network)

In the longest game in the 125-year history of the Commonwealth Clash on the baseball diamond, Virginia Tech was walked off by No. 18 Virginia in a 10-9 loss in 13 innings on Saturday night at Disharoon Park in Charlottesville.

After squandering a 7-0 lead, the Hokies (32-20, 14-16 ACC) went to extra innings with the Cavaliers (40-14, 18-12) deadlocked at 8-8. Down by a run in the bottom of the 13th, UVa outfielder Harrison Didawick golfed the walkoff two-run home run to right field to win it and complete the sweep in the regular-season finale.

The loss marks the third this season for VT after leading by five or more runs after it blew a 7-0 lead against Georgia Tech on April 14 and a 9-4 lead against Duke on April 21.

Tech scored three in the first and four in the second to get out to the early lead, going on a merry-go-round on the basepaths with eight hits and two walks in the first two frames.

That knocked Virginia starter Owen Coady out of the ballgame, collecting just three outs from the 10 batters he faced, allowing five runs in the process.

But the bats didnโ€™t stay that hot as the Hokies registered six hits for the remaining 11 innings of the game, with none until the top of the sixth. Still, they led 7-2 going into the bottom of the seventh. But thatโ€™s where it all went awry for them.

After six solid innings from Jeremy Neff and Matthew Siverling, who combined to give up just two runs while striking out eight, head coach John Szefc gave the ball to Jordan Little to keep the five-run lead intact. 

15 pitches later, the game was tied at 7-7.

Little issued a leadoff walk to Griff Oโ€™Ferrall and back-to-back singles to Anthony Stephan and Casey Saucke, with the latter scoring a run. Then Henry Ford cleared the bases, slugging a three-run homer to left field.

On the very next pitch, Jacob Ference followed suit, teeing off for the game-tying solo homer to left.

Despite the sudden change, Tech didnโ€™t go down quietly. Brady Kirtner relieved Little and quickly recorded three outs, and in the top of the eighth, Clay Grady poked the go-ahead two-out RBI single up the middle to put the Hokies back on top, 8-7.

However, like their rivals, the Cavaliers wouldnโ€™t go down easy either, tying the game in the home half of the frame on a sac fly from Saucke. After retiring the Hokies in order in the top of the ninth, UVa loaded the bases with one out in the bottom half with a golden opportunity to walk it off.

Kirtner had other ideas, though, retiring Oโ€™Ferrall and Stephan with two weak fly balls to send the game to extra innings.

Thatโ€™s where things got all sorts of wonky. Hoping to score in the top of the 10th, Ethan Gibson pinch hit for Warren Holzemer โ€” who had previously come in to pinch run โ€” and Carrington Aaron pinch ran for Henry Cooke. After failing to score with two on and one out, Gibson moved over to first so that Gehrig Ebel could catch, meaning the Hokies forfeited their DH spot for the remainder of the game.

That wouldnโ€™t come into effect for a while, though, as each squad put a runner aboard in the 10th and 11th innings, but neither team could bring that runner home. UVa mightโ€™ve had a shot in the bottom of the 11th, but an incredible strike โ€˜em out, throw โ€˜em out double play orchestrated by Ebel put a stop to that.

In the top of the 12th, Tech wound up having to send relief pitcher Grant Manning โ€” who had just tossed a scoreless 11th โ€” to the plate due to the aforementioned surrendering of the DH, and in an incredible turn of events, he worked a five-pitch walk. But it was in vain, as a double play and a groundout quickly ended things for the Hokies.

Virginia had another golden opportunity to win it in the bottom of the 12th, putting two on with one out against Manning. But the Chapman transfer locked in, striking out Ford and getting Ference to fly out to send the Hokies and Cavaliers to the 13th inning, marking the longest contest in the history of the rivalry in its 207th iteration.

The 13th inning provided the first breakthrough of extras as Tech loaded the bases with one out, setting up the go-ahead sac fly from Eddie Micheletti.

Though that was the lone run scored by the Hokies, they were in a great spot to leave Charlottesville with a getaway win, despite blowing the lead earlier.

UVa had other plans. After Ethan Anderson worked a leadoff walk against Manning, Szefc gave the ball to David Shoemaker, who had pitched on Friday and struggled a bit. Part of those struggles was giving up a home run to Didawick, the first hitter he faced in his outing.

Lo and behold, his first batter on Saturday was Virginiaโ€™s sophomore outfielder. On his fifth pitch, Didawick sent the walk-off homer beyond the right field fence, completing a five hour, 10 minute marathon with the cherry on top of a sweep in the Commonwealth Clash and his third homer in as many games.

It was UVaโ€™s fourth home run of the game and 13th of the series. Virginia Tech didnโ€™t leave the yard a single time over the weekend.

After starting the year 21-5 and 10-2 in the ACC โ€” their best-ever start to league play, leading to sitting atop the Coastal โ€” and winning their first four series, the Hokies finished the regular season going 11-15 and 4-14 in conference play, ending in fifth place in the division after dropping their final six ACC series of the year.

Tech turns the page to the ACC Baseball Championship in Charlotte, N.C., beginning on Tuesday, May 21. The Hokies are the No. 10 seed, playing in Pool C alongside No. 3 seed NC State (32-19, 18-11) โ€” perhaps the hottest team in the league, coming off a sweep of Wake Forest โ€” and No. 6 seed Duke (35-18, 16-14) โ€” who beat Tech in Blacksburg last month. The schedule will be released late Sunday morning, per the ACC.

Needless to say, barring an improbable run to capture the programโ€™s first ever ACC title, the Hokiesโ€™ already slim chances of playing NCAA Tournament baseball have vanished.

Box Score: No. 18 Virginia 10, Virginia Tech 9

 

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