Radford tops Virginia Tech baseball, takes season series

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RADFORD, Va, — Virginia Tech’s 7-4 loss to Radford Tuesday night marks the first time since 1998 the Hokies have lost two games in the same season versus their New River Valley neighbors.

It also hands the season series, which started on March 18 with a Tech victory, to the Highlanders.

The Hokies fell behind early with Packy Naughton on the mound, and, thanks to a superb performance by a freshman lefthander of their own, the Highlanders never looked back.

Ridgely takes second win versus Tech in April

Zach Ridgely’s April 6 win against the Hokies was largely aided by Radford’s offensive outburst.

After scoring five runs against him 4-plus innings in that outing, Tech hitters had far more trouble with Radford’s freshman lefty this time around.

The only blemish against Ridgely was a home run from Erik Payne. Other than that, the Hokies could only manage two hits and one walk in Ridgely’s six innings.

“He just filled (up the zone) early and mixed his stuff,” said Payne. “It’s tough to hit anybody when they are locating three pitches early in the count.”

He was economical through all six, using 84 pitches to strike out six. The Hokies had multiple runners on base only once while he was on the mound.

“He had us thinking to ourselves, which isn’t something we’re good at,” head coach Pat Mason said. “He pitched a really good job.”

“Our lineup in really good. Erik had a couple home runs obviously, but Alex (Perez) 0 for 3, Brendon 0 for 4, Sam 0-for. Give him credit. He threw strikes and mixed pitches. We thought he was going to throw this and he threw that. He had us chasing.”

Payne’s two long balls provides all of Tech’s offense

Both of Payne’s home runs traveled a long way, but neither made much of an impact on the contest.

His first, a no-doubter solo shot in the top of the sixth inning, broke a streak of five consecutive zeros on Tech’s portion of the scoreboard and cut into what was a four-run deficit.

After Ridgely was long gone and Austin Ross entered as Radford’s second reliever, Ryan Tufts and Saige Jenco started the eighth with back-to-back hits. Down 7-1, Sam Fragale and Alex Perez both went down on strikes and Payne took his powers to the other side of the stadium.

“I thought he might of came breaking ball,” Payne said, “but he put a fastball middle away, kind of up, I just tried to get barrel on it. There was a little wind on it, too, which helped it.”

Perez’s hit streak ends at 18

For the first time since March 20, Alex Perez did not record a hit, ending his 18-game hitting streak, which was the longest in the program since 2009.

He went 0 for 3 with a walk in the first inning, but struck out in his final three at-bats — two were on a called third strike.

It was the first multi-strikeout game for the Miami native all season and the first three-strikeout game since March 2014.

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