Nine years after the first baseball regional at Virginia Tech, the #4 Hokies made history to reach heights beyond what any Virginia Tech baseball team has reached before.
#4 Virginia Tech beat Columbia 7-2 to win the Blacksburg Regional and advance to the Super Regionals for the first time in program history. The Hokies will host the Blacksburg Super Regional and face the winner of the winner-take-all Gainesville Regional final tomorrow at 1pm between #13 Florida and Oklahoma.
Tech took control of this game in the first inning as Ryan Metz started out strong while Gavin Cross got a one-out walk to set the table for yesterday's birthday star Tanner Schobel who followed that big game up with a two-run home run to give the Hokies an early 2-0 lead. That gave Tech early control of this game and relieved some of the pressure that came with having the chance to win and advance to VT's first Super Regionals in program history.
Tech kept it going in the 2nd inning with a one-out walk once again, this time from Carson DeMartini to set the table. Nick Biddison took advantage right after with a triple to bring home DeMartini and give the Hokies a 3-0 lead.
However, Columbia fought back in the third as a triple from Tyler MacGregor brought home a run and made it 3-1 before Metz got a big third out without allowing anymore advantage. Tech would get some momentum in the bottom of the 3rd but the pitching change from Joe Sheets to Saajan May proved big as May got out of a bases loaded jam with back-to-back strikeouts of Conor Hartigan and Carson DeMartini.
Meanwhile, Ryan Metz cruised mostly on his way to the longest start of his career, but gave up a HBP with 2 outs in the 5th inning leading to John Szefc making a change from Metz to Graham Firoved. That proved to be the right one as Firoved got a big strikeout against Andy Blake to end the top of the 5th inning in what was still a 3-1 game.
That gave the Hokies momentum as they were looking for another big outburst in the middle innings after a 5-run 5th inning against Wright State on Friday and a 14-run 4th inning against Columbia on Saturday.
Those middle innings once again proved fruitful as Carson Jones had a one-out walk and Conor Hartigan had a two-out single to set the table for Carson DeMartini. In the biggest at-bat of his collegiate career to date, DeMartini delivered with a three-run home run to give Tech a 6-1 lead. Nick Biddison followed it up with a big hit of his own via a solo home run to blow the game open at 7-1 in the 5th inning.
Firoved got himself in a jam in the 6th with 2 runners on and no outs but fought through and gave up no runs before going 3 up, 3 down in the top of the 7th. This came as Tech's offense slowed some with three-straight 3 up, 3 down innings starting in the bottom of the 6th and going through the bottom of the 8th.
Columbia started to get some things going in the top of the 8th with Firoved giving up a walk to Andy Blake leading to a pitching change from Firoved to Henry Weycker. Weycker came in and gave up a run but limited the damage to just that run.
Weycker then closed it out in the top of the 9th with a 3 up, 3 down inning to send the Hokies to their first Super Regional in program history.
Nick Biddison was one of the stars of the night going 2-5 with a solo home run and RBI triple while Carson DeMartini had a three-run home run plus a walk that he would later score on via the Biddison triple. Tanner Schobel added a two-run home run to get Tech going that proved quite valuable while Gavin Cross had 3 walks and scored a run plus had a steal as he found more ways to contribute to this game.
Ryan Metz was one of the stars of this night with the longest and best appearance of his career in starting for the Hokies going 4.2 innings allowing only 1 run, 3 hits, 1 walk, and 1 HBP while striking out 4. Graham Firoved kept it rolling allowing only 2 walks, 1 hit, and 1 run (that scored after he was out) while striking out 5. Henry Weycker finished it off with 2 innings allowing only 2 hits and striking out 3.
From the time John Szefc arrived, the motto was to "Build It In Blacksburg" with Virginia Tech's English Field going under a massive renovation and Whit Babcock's hiring of Szefc away from Maryland a clear statement that the Hokies were ready to be players in baseball.
Five years later, Szefc and Virginia Tech have reached heights that have never been reached before from unofficially winning the ACC regular season title to hosting their second regional and now reaching (and hosting) their first Super Regional in program history.
What's clear now is that it has been Built in Blacksburg, but these Hokies have their eyes set on a much greater prize with a road that still has more games and miles to be traveled to achieve that ultimate goal.