#14 Virginia Tech opened the weekend with a disappointing start after Bryant pitcher Coleman Picard was almost unstoppable to lead the Bulldogs to victory.
However, the script was flipped on Saturday. #14 Virginia Tech (4-2), in its new home whites, took down Bryant (1-4), 4-1. The Hokies had their ace on the mound, and boy, did Drue Hackenberg shove.
The sophomore RHP, named a Preseason All-American by College Baseball Newspaper, D1Baseball, and Perfect Game, had arguably his best performance in a Virginia Tech uniform.
In seven innings pitched, Hackenberg threw a career best ten strikeouts, breaking his previous best of eight, set last year against NC State. And while the Palmyra, Virginia native was on the field when the Bulldogs scored their lone run of the game, it came unearned, due to an error.
The most impressive part: in just his second start of the season, Hackenberg threw 106 pitches, so working the sophomore in slowly was definitely lost in translation.
“It’s a little sore and tender,” Hackenberg said postgame regarding his arm. “When I was in there it felt completely fine, I felt like I could have kept going personally, just trying to not go over 115 [pitches].”
One of the more impressive stats about the day Hackenberg had on the mound was the streak he had of six punchouts in a row from the fourth to the fifth innings.
“We were really spinning it there, throughout that whole [stretch],” Hackenberg said on staying in the zone during that streak. “I was just locked in, one of those moments where we had the home crowd…just trying to stay into every at bat, really work on that slider…”
Following Hackenerg’s terrific day, head coach John Szefc sent in Henry Weycker, the lefty who threw ten strikeouts in relief of Hackenberg last weekend, to close the game out.
And Weycker did just that, punching out three batters in his two innings pitched while allowing just one hit on 30 pitches. With another strong performance in the books, Weycker is emerging as the lead arm out of the VT bullpen.
As for the Tech offense, it was certainly better than the opening game of the series. The Hokies struck quickly into this one, scoring two runs in the third inning, thanks to homers from catcher Gehrig Ebel (1), and NC State transfer Eddie Eisert (2). The tandem hit the homers on back-to-back pitches, choosing to celebrate with the ‘air hammer.’
This is due to the fact that the ACC umpire assignor requested that the team do their home-run celebration in the dugout, and not on the field, per John Szefc.
Regardless, there's no denying that the Hokies once again have a deep lineup.
“Yeah, no doubt,” Ebel said on the depth of the Hokies, as he and Eisert created production from the bottom of the order. “Offensive side - the past three games, we sung it really well, a couple of guys had contributed alot…I think once we all hit our stride, everyone can contribute.”
Tech would follow the third inning up with a productive fourth, scoring two runs. One came off the bat of Christian Martin, whose hot streak has bumped him up to the four hole in the lineup. Martin singled up the middle, scoring third baseman Carson DeMartini for his lone RBI of this game.
The fourth run scored by the Hokies came when freshman Garrett Michel grounded out to first on a fielder’s choice with Martin scoring from third on the play.
With the win, Tech is once again in the same spot as last weekend, with a chance to take the series on the Sunday game.
“We got a lot of guys that are kind of trying to figure it out, trying to find it out, from [Jack] Hurley to [Carson] Jones, I don’t think any one of our guys are at the top of their game offensively…with the exception of Martin…when you got some arms to cover it up like that, that’s really helpful,” said Szefc on the overall performance.
Tomorrow’s series-deciding game will begin at 1 pm. Anthony Arguellas expected to take the mound for Virginia Tech.