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#14 Virginia Tech Beats Bryant 15-8 as Chris Cannizzaro Hits for the Cycle

Chris Cannizzaro 1 VT Bryant 2023 From VT
Ryan Duvall | @RyanGDuvall
Writer/Baseball Beat Reporter

After having seven runs total in the first two games of the series, #14 Virginia Tech decided to turn it up in Sunday's series deciding game against Bryant. In a game that pace-of-play fans would not enjoy, the Hokies (5-2) more than doubled their run total from the first two games to beat the Bulldogs (1-5) 15-8.

This was no pitchers' duel, as both Tech starter Anthony Arguelles and Bryant LHP Logan Fraiser were gone with under four innings to their name.

Fraiser in particular got blown up, with his ERA jumping from 12 to 21.21 thanks to a seven-run second inning from the Hokies, in which the hammer returned.

In the second, Tech totaled seven runs on six hits, including three homers. Freshman catcher Brody Donay started the party with an inside the park homer - the first of his career. A ball driven to left center got lost in the sun, and before you knew it, Donay was crossing third, on the way home.

Bucknell transfer Chris Cannizzaro went deep as well, and after Bryant took Frasier out, it became clear that the pitcher the Hokies were facing was irrelevant, as Eddie Eisert went yard for the second straight day, taking a pitch from Liam Levangie into the opposing bullpen out in right field.

“The one thing we did do was put up big innings, and they didn’t,” said Tech head coach John Szefc on what separated the two teams on the scoreboard.

The Hokies certainly did have their big innings today, with a lineup that was much improved from the past two games. But who led the charge? If you ask anyone at English field on Sunday, it would have to have been Cannizzaro.

The left fielder did something that is very rare at any level of baseball - hitting for the cycle. And not only did he hit for the cycle, but he had done it by the bottom of the sixth.

His day started with a triple in the first, followed by the homer in the second. A single in the fourth officially put him on cycle watch, which was new to him.

“I’ve never hit for the cycle in my life,” said Cannizzaro. “I was three-for-three, and Warren [Holzemer] came up to me and he was like ‘hey man, go hit a double or something.'"

And with a double in the bottom of the sixth inning he had done it. This was the first cycle for a Hokie since Gavin Cross did it in 2021 against ETSU.

But Cannizzaro wasn’t done just yet. He came up to the plate again in the seventh, and smashed his second homer of the day, over the left-center wall. His final line for the day would finish at an impressive 5-6 with two home runs and two RBIs

Now batting .433 on the young 2023 season, John Szefc talked after the game about how impactful the transfer has been to a lineup that lost a lot of talent after 2022.

“That’s a really fine hitter right there…he’s a really good part of what we have going on offensively, in the fact that he is a right handed hitter amongst all of the lefties we have,” said Szefc.

Some of the other notable performances from the Hokies lineup included Eisert, who went three-for-four with the second inning homer, and Eduardo Malinowski. Malinowski had been on the bench for the first two games of this series, due to the hot bat of Christian Martin, but had his chance at DH today and was able to bring in a pair of runs with a double.

With Arguelles tossing just 3.1 IP after giving up four runs, Tech had to rely heavily on the bullpen on Sunday, and the high volume of arms they had access to could be due to the magnificent performance of Drue Hackenberg on Saturday.

Of the six arms used in relief today, the two that stood out the most were freshman right-handers Griffin Stieg and Tommy Szczepanski. Stieg pitched 1.2 innings of solid baseball, striking out four, and allowing just one run on the Zac Zyons solo shot.

Szczepanski on the other hand made his collegiate debut on Sunday, pitching the ninth inning for Tech. He was able to rally after plunking the first batter, striking out the remaining three Bryant hitters in order to seal the series clinching victory.

Following this series, Virginia Tech has a home game this Tuesday against local foe Radford, before playing host to Charlotte in the first series of March.

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