Both Virginia Tech baseball and Virginia Tech softball have gotten off to impressive starts with both teams picking up road wins over top 10 opponents on the road while also having a combined 31-9 record after their road weekend openers.
Here’s a recap on what you may have missed from these two programs during the week.
Virginia Tech Takes a Midweek Pair From Richmond, Beat Pittsburgh in Opener
After taking only 1 of 3 from Florida State despite two close losses, Virginia Tech bounced back with a pair of wins against Richmond followed by winning their opener of their weekend series at Pittsburgh today. With the three wins, the Hokies have improved to 12-5 on the season including 2-2 in ACC games.
The nail-bitter came Tuesday in the opener of the two-game series with Richmond as Virginia Tech surged to a 6-1 lead before the Spiders chipped away and tied it up at 6 with a 3-run seventh inning. However, a pair of Richmond mistakes cost the Spiders as the Hokies scored a run off of a passed ball followed by a pop up from Kerry Carpenter turning into an error and insurance run for the Hokies. Connor Yoder picked up his first win of the season with 2 shutout innings to end the game while infielders Nick Owens and Kevin Madden had 2 RBIs in the game.
Wednesday proved to be much easier as the Hokies blew out the Spiders on their way to a 10-1 victory over the fellow Commonwealth program. Ryan Okuda got the win with 4.1 shutout innings in relief after starter Nolan Wilson went only 2 innings. Tanner Thomas led the offense going 3-5 with 4 RBIs while Nick Owens had another strong performance going 3-4 with 3 RBIs and Nick Biddison had a two-run home run while scoring 3 different times.
Today, the Hokies opened their weekend series at Pittsburgh with a dominant 11-4 victory. After a couple midweek games of relying on their bullpen for lots of innings, Ian Seymour gave the Hokies 6 quality innings only allowing 3 runs on 7 hits with 6 strikeouts. Kerry Carpenter put on a show going 3-5 with 6 RBIs including a grand slam in the sixth inning that gave VT a 9-0 lead.
Year 2 of the John Szefc has been a clear step forward for Virginia Tech baseball which largely is due to the talent evaluation done by Szefc and his staff with many key players being either freshman or JUCO transfers.
Chris Gerard Named 1 of 3 National Players of the Week
After throwing 7 shutout innings in Virginia Tech’s lone win at Florida State, freshman starting pitcher Chris Gerard was one of three players to receive National Player of the Week honors.
— NCBWA (@NCBWA) March 12, 2019
In his impressive performance, Gerard only allowed one hit while carrying a no-hitter through the first 6 innings of his appearance.
Gerard has been a big reason why Virginia Tech has been able to get off to an 11-5 start. The freshman starter has been impressive establishing himself as a very good #2 starter with a 1-0 record, 19 strikeouts, and a 0.43 ERA in 21 innings through 4 starts. What may be most impressive is the fact that opponents are only hitting .215 against Gerard while the freshman only has 6 walks, a pretty strong mark for a freshman.
Gerard, and Virginia Tech’s strong freshman class as a whole, are a big reason why the Hokies look significantly better in the second year under John Szefc with Gerard giving the Hokies a very good one-two punch at the top of their rotation alongside sophomore Ian Seymour.
Virginia Tech Softball Jumps Into One Top 25
After an 18-4 start that included a win at top 10 Georgia, a weekend series victory over Georgia Tech to start ACC play, and some other strong wins against teams like Wichita State and Texas, Virginia Tech softball broke into one top 25 ranking this past week.
— Virginia Tech Softball (@HokiesSoftball) March 12, 2019
The Hokies are ranked 25th this week in the ESPN/USA Softball poll, their first time being ranked since March of 2015. The Hokies have a chance to prove why they should stay in the top 25 with a weekend series at N.C. State.
Virginia Tech’s fast start in their first season under Pete D’Amour is simply incredible given some of the struggles the program has had in recent years, but is a testament to the infrastructure that was left behind because of how Scot Thomas built this program.
This start is also reminiscent of what John Sung did in his first year taking Virginia Tech women’s lacrosse from the ACC’s bottom dweller to a team on the precipice of the NCAA Tournament that broke through the next season.
Virginia Tech Takes Weekend Opener at N.C. State
In their first game since jumping in the top 25, Virginia Tech took care of business on the road in their weekend series opener at N.C. State, beating the Wolfpack 4-2 to improve to 19-4.
The Hokies did most of their damage early with a three-run third inning with RBIs from Darby Trull on a sacrifice fly, Caitlyn Nolan on a double, and Emma Strouth on a single. The Hokies were able to hold on to the lead the rest of the way with the gap getting no smaller than 2 as Carrie Eberle went all 7 innings only allowing 2 runs on 7 hits with 7 strikeouts. Strouth led the offense going 2-2 with her RBI along with a walk, reaching base in all three plate appearances.
The series as a whole gives the Hokies a great opportunity to prove that they are going to be a contender in the ACC against a Wolfpack team that is 16-9 after today’s game. Taking 2 out of 3 should put them higher in the polls while a sweep would be a statement that Virginia Tech could have a chance to make a run at being a top 16 team and host a sub-regional in year 1 under Pete D’Amour.