After tough weekend, Hokies respond with 6-5 win over VMI

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Phil Sciretta had just one at bat Tuesday night, so he made sure to make it count.

After the Hokie bullpen lost a lead for the third straight game, Sciretta broke an eighth-inning tie with a pinch-hit, RBI single to put the Hokies ahead of Virginia Military Institute for good.

“I’ve been doing it all year,” said Sciretta, who has four pinch-hit RBI base hits this season. “I know my role there, and when the situation comes I just want to do whatever I can to help the team win.”

The 6-5 win marks the fourth consecutive midweek win for Tech, which lost its first five midweek games of the season.

“I think he’s our top choice,” head coach Pat Mason said. “When he’s not in the lineup he’s our top choice, and I think he’s done a good job.”

Kit Scheetz made his second start for Tech since missing almost a month away with mono. He was strong for his first five innings, keeping his pitch count down and avoiding serious trouble. Scheetz allowed four hits in the first five innings, but took advantage of a pickoff and two double plays to face one over the minimum number of batters.

“I really felt good with my fastball early. I think my fastball command was as good as its been all year, especially getting strike one and getting ahead. And then I was able to drop in curveballs there to keep guys off balance.”

Given a 4-0 lead by his offense, Scheetz encountered some trouble in the sixth inning. The left-hander admitted fatigue was a major factor during the 34-pitch, two-run frame. With the bases loaded and two outs, Brandon Agnus doubled over the head of left fielder Miguel Ceballos.

He loaded the bases again after hitting a batter, but escaped without further harm with a strikeout and a comeback ground ball to keep the score at 4-2.

The Hokies added one to the lead in the sixth on a wild pitch, but the bullpen continued to have trouble, a trend that cost the Hokies two games against Florida State this weekend.

Connor Coward replaced Scheetz to start the seventh, but walked the first two hitters he faced. Coward, who walked all three batters he faced Saturday in Tallahassee, loaded the bases on an infield single and was pulled for Chris Monaco.

Monaco quickly induced a 4-6-3 double play, a two-out for one-run trade the Hokies were happy to make at the time. The 5-3 lead disappeared seven pitches later when Jordan Tarsovich tied the game on his fourth home run of the year.

After neither team scored in their next at bat, the Hokies had the final say with an unearned run in the eighth. Sean Keselica reached safely on a throwing error and was sacrificed to second base by Ryan Tufts. Then, after working the count full and seeing a fastball he could handle, Sciretta sent a hard ground ball back up the box.

Sean Kennedy pitched a perfect ninth to earn his second save.

The win improves the Hokies to 16-14 on the year.

“I think we see past the record,” Sciretta said. “We know how good we really are and if we keep doing what we’re doing things are going to start falling our way.”

Given the tough weekend that is now behind them and the fact that Tuesday marks the only game of the week, the win, however it came about, was much-needed.

“After a long semi-disappointing weekend at Florida State and a long, long grueling bus ride it was very, very big for us to get this win today,” catcher Joe Freiday Jr. said. “This is really where you need to prove yourself and get yourself ready for the weekends.“

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