Ryan Brown’s hard hit ground ball to Virginia Tech shortstop Ricky Surum with one-out in the top of the third inning Wednesday should have been the beginning of an inning-ending double play.
Instead, it was the first of three Hokies errors in what ended up being a four-run frame for College of Charleston. Tech, which had taken the lead on a Brendon Hayden solo home run in the second, never led again in the 8-3 loss.
“Ricky should be able to make an error,” head coach Pat Mason said. “It’s a big error, I mean he knows that, but we, as a team, should be able to make one error and not have it be two or three. We should be able to get out of that inning giving up one run, or two runs, or perhaps even no runs.”
In his postgame address to his team, an animated Mason tried to communicate the chance the Hokies let slip away.
“I just think it was a wasted opportunity today,” he said afterward, summarizing his message. “It didn’t feel we played the game of baseball the way it was supposed to be played in terms of energy. I just think it was a day that we had a chance to be better and we didn’t, win or lose. That’s every day. That has to be our mindset every single day.”
Alex Perez, who has started all 182 games for the Hokies since he arrived in Blacksburg, began the game on the mound. He lasted four innings and allowed five hits while recording zero strikeouts or walks. All four runs he allowed were unearned and came in the sloppy third inning.
“It’s definitely hard just to deal with it, but I’ve been on the other end of it,” said Perez, who plays second base when he isn’t pitching. “I know how it is. To be an infielder, you never want to make an error. Just to get them the ball again, they’ll make the play the next time.”
The Hokies (6-6) were able to cut the Cougar lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the third when Miguel Ceballos singled in Perez, but missed an opportunity to pack a bigger punch when second baseman Erik Payne slipped on the English Field turf as he rounded third base and was forced to stay put 90 feet away from Tech’s third run. On the next pitch, Ryan Tufts grounded out with the bases loaded.
With the absence of scheduled starter Kit Scheetz, who will miss the next few weeks with mononucleosis, Mason knew Wednesday would be an effort requiring a handful of pitchers. He hoped to get a scoreless fifth inning out of Luis Collazo, but the left-hander was knocked around for three runs on three hits as the Cougars extended its lead to 7-2.
On the year, Collazo has allowed five hits and four runs, all earned, in two innings pitched.
“”He’s not attacking the zone with conviction,” Mason said about Collazo. “His stuff is good. I don’t think he attacks the zone enough and he gives hitters too many looks at him to make adjustments deeper into the at bat. His stuff is good. He’s going to have to get us some outs. He’s too valuable of an asset, and we’ll get him right.”
The Hokies hope he gets right in time for this weekend’s conference-opening series against Wake Forest.
Despite having a slew of games cancelled due to temperamental weather, the Hokies feel prepared for the beginning of ACC play.
“We’re confident,” catcher Andrew Mogg said. “We’re ready. We’ve been working hard and we’re excited to get after it.”
Perez thinks the team is ready too, and he added that the loss to the College of Charleston may give the Hokies a boot in the right direction mentally.
“I think it will motivate us for this weekend,” Perez said. “No to just come in here and get an easy ‘W’ and think we’re all good against Wake. We’re going to have a tough opponent. We know it.”