Some victories in life mean more than others. Virginia Tech head coach John Szefc got to experience one of those on Saturday after picking up his 400th career win.
“There are some things personally that are more enjoyable than others on the baseball field,” Szefc said following the Hokies’ doubleheader against Pitt. “That would be one of them for me.”
The Hokies split the doubleheader, winning the first game 3-1 before dropping the second contest 15-10. Despite that, Szefc was still happy to reach the milestone win.
“I’ve learned over the years that you really gotta enjoy the small victories in life so to speak,” Szefc said. “So for me that’s kind of a personal small victory.”
Szefc’s 400th career win was his eighth as the head man for the Hokies. Tech sits at 8-8 on the season following this weekend’s series win against the Panthers.
Pitt came into the weekend with a record of 10-2, their best start to a season since 2002. The Panthers were 17th in RPI and receiving votes in the NCBWA Poll. Szefc wasn’t concerned with his opponent’s early season success, though.
“For me, winning a conference weekend against any conference opponent is good,” Szefc said. “Everybody in the conference is good. Every game is a challenge. I’m just happy that we came out ahead two of three.”
Led by a 12-strikeout performance by Connor Coward, Virginia Tech won game one of the weekend 4-1 on Friday afternoon. With freshman Ian Seymour taking the mound in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, the Hokies were poised for another dominating defensive performance.
Seymour set a season-high with 10 strikeouts. He pitched seven innings, giving up just one run on four hits.
Despite his career performance, Seymour was more excited about helping out the team.
“It’s just exciting we helped the team get a win,” he said. “When you win a series, that’s big, especially at home.”
The Hokies’ offense in the second game of the series was highlighted by Luke Horanski, who went 2-for-4 with a solo home run in the sixth inning.
Andrew McDonald pitched two innings of relief to pick up the save, striking out two and giving up just one hit.
Game three on Saturday was a far different story. The Hokies took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second, but they wouldn’t hold on for long as they lost 15-10.
Pitt’s offense woke up in the top of the fourth, scoring five runs. They kept up the offensive barrage, scoring four, three, two, and one runs respectively in consecutive innings.
Szefc has spoken this season about how the team needs to focus on defense, and Saturday’s second game proved his point.
“If we pitch and play defense like we had the rest of the week, it’s a different story,” Szefc said about the Hokies’ performance in the second game of the doubleheader. “We’re up 2-0 in a game going into the fourth. Clearly we didn’t pitch very effectively and that was probably our worst defensive game of the year.”
The Hokies scored 10 runs in the game, but the lack of defense proved to be the difference maker.
“When you score 10 runs at home you should win,” Szefc said. “Mathematically in baseball that’s the way it works.”
The Hokies used nine pitchers in game two of the doubleheader, but none of them could find a way to quiet the Panthers’ bats. Starter Nic Enright went 3.2 innings, giving up four earned runs on five hits.
Dylan Hall got tagged with the loss. The sophomore pitched 0.2 innings and gave up two runs on two hits.
Despite the loss in game three, Szefc was thinking positive after the series.
“The last game was a little bit ugly and everything and every once in a while you’re gonna have one like that, but if you had told me at the beginning of the weekend ‘You’re gonna win two out of three,’ I’d say I’d take it,” Szefc said. “We’ve progressed a lot over the last few weeks. We’re not where we need to be yet, but it’s also the beginning of March and I’d like to think that as long as we keep making good progress that we’ll hopefully stay away from games like the third game.”
- Virginia Tech and Pitt pitchers combined to throw 377 pitches in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader. According to one of Pitt’s staff members, there were 99 at bats in the game.
- At 4 hours 7 minutes, the third game of the Pitt series was the longest game Tech has played in this season.
- Connor Coward picked up his first win of the season on Friday. Despite having a career year, the Hokies are 1-3 when Coward is on the mound.
- Virginia Tech has now played 23 doubleheaders in the ACC. The Hokies have only won two. They’ve lost eight and split 13.