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No. 11 Virginia Tech Baseball Drops Series Opener to No. 21 Wake Forest 8-5

Eddie Micheletti Jr 1 VT WF 2024 From VT
Photo Credit: Virginia Tech Athletics
Will Locklin | @locklin_will
Writer/Basketball Analyst

To beat the best you have to at least match the best. No. 11 Virginia Tech wasn’t able to do that as the Hokies fell victim to one of the best pitchers in college baseball in a 8-5 game one loss against No. 21 Wake Forest at English Field Friday evening.

Wake’s starting pitcher for game one was Chase Burns. Tabbed as perhaps the top pitching prospect in all of college baseball, Burns proved why against the Hokies. The Gallatin, Tennessee native carved through Tech’s lineup to the tune of 15 strikeouts across seven innings of work to earn his sixth win of the season.

“That’s one of the best arms I’ve seen in 30 years. He’s got big league velocity and a big league slider. Probably threw the best changeup at us he’s had all year. There’s a difference between major leaguers and minor leaguers and that’s a major leaguer right there," John Szefc told reporters postgame.

On the Hokies side of the diamond, Brett Renfrow got the start opposite of Burns for the Demon Deacons. Renfrow went 3.1 innings before being pulled after giving up five earned runs off of three hits with four strikeouts. Though Renfrow has been an excellent game one starter for the Hokies in ACC play so far, Friday night was not his best outing.

“He just couldn’t locate. They had some really good at bats off him. It was a crucial part in the game and it hurt us there. But, he’s done a good job for us all year so he just has to put this behind him and assume you’ll be better tomorrow.” Szefc said.

After Wake Forest took an early 3-1 lead, Virginia Tech was punctured in the arm with a shot of adrenaline in the bottom of the third inning. The Hokies loaded the bases for Eddie Micheletti Jr and the George Washington transfer delivered with a grand slam off of Burns to give the Hokies a then 5-3 lead.

“It’s hard to lose when you hit a grand slam but we did it tonight. You score four on one swing and give up five the next inning. That’s not what we were looking for,” Szefc said. “If you had told me before the game that we would score five I would take it. But, you can’t give up eight and expect to have success against those guys.”

Micheletti not only went yard in the third inning but he also drew patient walks in both the sixth and eighth innings. Micheletti was by far the Hokies' best batter against Burns and continues to be a force at the plate for Virginia Tech this season.

“I pride myself on not being a strikeout kind of hitter. Be more of a ball in play kind of guy and I learned that a lot from my time at GW (George Washington). I slowed down and stayed calm and saw my pitch and reacted well.” Eddie Micheletti Jr. said postgame.

Following the grand slam in the bottom of the third. Tech gave up a five-run inning to Wake Forest. Renfrow exited in that frame and David Shoemaker from the bullpen only got one out but gave up three earned runs off of three hits. Following Wake’s five run fourth inning, neither team was able to plate a run for the remainder of the contest.

“Those guys were in Omaha last year. Maybe their numbers don’t indicate it this year but that’s the best team we’ve played this year and it’s not even close.” Szefc said.

Though Tech’s pitching struggled as a whole, the Hokies received a strong outing from Jacob Exum. The sophomore ate up crucial innings for Tech in the middle stretch of the game which went a long way to limiting the damage and not letting the Deacons get too far out of reach. Exum threw 3.0 innings strong and allowed just two hits with four registered strikeouts.

“Just tried to find the zone and get ground balls and get outs and save the pen for the rest of the weekend,” Jacob Exum said postgame. “It’s about getting ahead and staying ahead.”

Virginia Tech will move on to Saturday’s game two as they will look to even the series and give themselves a chance to take the series Sunday against Wake Forest in Blacksburg. Though Tech suffered a game one loss for just the second time this season, the Hokies remain confident they can salvage the series.

“It’s a three-game series, not a one-game series,” Szefc said. “We were in a similar situation at Louisville and we responded to that pretty well. Our guys will be alright. It’s a disappointing outing.”

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