The #14 Virginia Tech Baseball team kicked off their season on the road at a good Charleston team. It wasn’t the strongest opener for the Hokies but once they found their offensive rhythm, things took off to say the least.
Here's how it all played out.
Friday was tough for Virginia Tech. Although Griffin Green had a solid outing for Tech, notching five strikeouts, while allowing just one run on two hits, the Hokies would end up blowing a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning on their way to a 5-2 defeat
The two runs came in the top of the sixth, when Carson DeMartini stepped up to the plate and doubled into right center to score Jack Hurley. Carson Jones put the Hokies on the board again with an oppo single that sent DeMartini past home plate.
Charleston had the bases loaded in the bottom half of the inning when Khyree Miller stepped up to the plate. The center fielder took one look at a 1-0 fastball from Jonah Hurney, and launched it way over the left field wall to claim a 5-2 lead.
That was all she wrote for Friday’s game, with Tech, a team set for a big year, suffering an upset loss on opening day, by a score of 5-2.
Saturday’s contest looked to be heading in the same direction, with the Cougars up 3-1 heading into the sixth inning. That was until the hard hitting Hokies that Tech fans had come to know in 2022 woke up.
Virginia Tech would score eleven runs over the next three innings, and the catalyst was freshman infielder Garrett Michel. The North Carolina native went three-for-four, picking up a double and two RBI’s in the game. Tech would end up winning game two 12-3.
Six Hokies including Michel ended up with an RBI on Saturday, showcasing the offesnve depth the team raved about preseason.
Although hitting was what put the Hokies in a position to win, the star of the day had to be Henry Weycker. The junior LHP was fantastic in his 4.1 innings of relief for Drue Hackenberg, who like all starters this weekend was on a pitch count
“Yeah - I was pretty confident,” Weycker told Tech Sideline’s Chris Hirons after delivering a career best ten strikeouts, while allowing just three hits and a walk. Safe to say, Weycker's confidence is likely even higher after that performance.
The Hokies' offensive dominance continued into Sunday, a game Virginia Tech would end up winning 15-2. And who would have thought, but the fan favorite hammer celebration was brought back following NC State transfer Eddie Eisert’s first home run in a VT uniform.
In addition to the Eisert dinger, Hurley and Michel hit their first round trippers of the season. However, Hurley chose to replace the hammer in the well-known celebration with a bat in order to avoid NCAA punishment.
Following the 2022 season, the NCAA outlawed the hammer celebration as the use of props is seen as a violation, and can lead to an ejection if it happens more than once per series. That's why the hammer came out for only Eisert and since the bat isn't a prop, Hurley was able to use his bat instead.
Tech compiled a total of 27 runs in the final two games of the series, after losing to the CAA reigning champs in the opener, bouncing back in a big way. Through three games, the Hokies appear to have filled the production left behind by several 2022 MLB draft picks.
In addition to Michel and Eisert, Buckenell transfer Chris Cannizzaro made an excellent debut in this series, starting all three games in the outfield, while going four of 11 at the plate with three RBI’s.
Miami transfer Anthony Arguelles was on the bump Sunday, and shoved, tossing four innings of one run baseball, punching out six Cougar batters on the way. Grant Umberger picked up the win for Tech, shutting CofC down for three innings, before freshman Griffin Stieg came in to close the game out.
Hurley, named to the preseason watchlist for the Golden Spikes award, paced the squad with five RBI’s over the course of the weekend.
“Yeah, it’s cool to see,” Hurley told the media last week regarding all of the preseason recognition. “Just to see that, it’s cool to be a part of that group, but then again we’ve got a whole season ahead of us so we’re trying to make some serious damage this year…”
While the junior shined this series, sixth year senior Eduardo Malinowki had a tough start to the season. The second basemen went 0-for-eight in the first two games of the series.
Virginia Tech opens the season at 2-1, and will be making their 2023 debut at English Field this Tuesday, when they take on ETSU at 1:30 p.m. The Hokies will be at home until March 14, when ironically, they will head down to Johnson City to again face the Buccaneers.