Sunday, Virginia Tech couldn’t find the scoreboard until the very last at-bat of the game. Despite the excitement it led to, it didn’t wait nearly as long Tuesday against West Virginia.
Four runs in the second inning, two in the third, three in the fourth and several more along the way paved the way to a 13-3 Hokie win, the first over the Mountaineers since 2012.
The Hokies’ win was their seventh in a row, the longest streak since they won eight in 2013.
“We’re clicking on all cylinders and our team is looking super good,” starter Jon Woodcock said. “Hopefully we can keep it rolling into the ACC tournament.”
West Virginia (24-23) used six pitchers to record their 24 outs — it was slated to be a staff day, anyway — but the Hokies were willing to hit whoever would pitch it to them.
“We just have been swinging the bat well lately,” said senior Erik Payne. “Just one of those nights were everyone is clicking, everyone is swinging it well. We scored 13 runs. We had 13 hits.”
Five Hokies had multiple hits on the afternoon, including Saige Jenco, who set a career high with six RBIs.
In the second inning, Jenco smacked a triple to right field that emptied all three bases — that alone tied his previous career high. Four innings later, after two walks and a run scored, he singled through the right side, plating two more. In the eighth, he tied an ACC record with his second triple of the game, again pulled to right.
“I told myself I was going to stay inside the ball a lot more this week and work on that,” Jenco said. “I got chances to drive inside pitches and felt good, got in good hitting counts and was able to drive the ball.”
“I’m usually an inside-out hitter, opposite way,” said Jenco. “Coach has been working with me, and I worked a lot this winter on trying to keep my hands inside and drive the ball to right field.”
The Hokies were nine for 24 with men on base and six for 17 with runners in scoring position.
“I think it’s just a collective confidence in our dugout in general,” said head coach Pat Mason. “It’s not just hitting. We’re turning double plays, we’re drawing walks, we’re getting hits, we’re staying off pitches that are out of the zone, we’re throwing strikes on the mound and it’s just a collective confidence that we have right now.”
On the mound, Jon Woodcock’s day started inauspiciously when K.C. Huth doubled to left-center on the game’s third pitch, but he exited the fist frame unscathed after a Ryan Tufts started a 5-4-3 double play.
Woodcock, who transferred to Tech from Crowder College in California before the 2014 season, had not pitched into a double play in his previous 58-plus innings. He induced two during the game.
“It’s huge,” said Mason. “It’s what we preach in the dugout, keep pitching to ground balls. And when you get them you want to get rewarded that you’re going to get the double play. It’s very important, and it also helps your confidence on the mound.”
The redshirt junior allowed one unearned run in the second inning and hung a breaking ball in the fourth — Caleb Potter sent it deep over the wall in left field. Other than that mistake, he was in control.
“Our offense was super hot,” Woodcock said. “Just try to go in there and throw fastballs for strikes and get ahead of hitters. Get our offense back to the plate and score more runs as fast as possible.”
Woodcock’s start lasted seven innings – his longest outing since March 22 – and improved his record to 3-2.
“He had a good confidence about him, which I think maybe was a little in his head his last couple starts,” said Mason. “He was working quick, in a good rhythm, getting swings on his changeup. I think you can tell, generally speaking, when he’s pitching off that pitch and he’s getting some swings off it he’s more than likely going to have some success in that outing.”
The Hokies have eight days off before playing Pittsburgh in the final ACC series of the regular season.